Amendments to electoral reforms in next 3 to 4 months: Moily

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Bangalore, Feb 13 (PTI) A comprehensive amendment toelectoral reforms will be brought about in the next three tofour months, Union Law Minister M Veerappa Moily said today.

"A comprehensive amendment is the need of the hour and willbe brought about in the next three to four months after anational consultation on the issue," he said at the SixthRegional Consultation on Electoral Reforms here.

He said the recommendation made by the National Commissionto Review the Working of the Constitution, 2001, to enhanceexisting ceiling on election expenses for the variouslegislative bodies to Rs 40 lakh for a Lok Sabha seat and Rs16 lakh for an assembly seat from Rs 25 lakh and Rs 10 lakhrespectively at present, will be cleared within a week.

"If we can find one instrument to wipe out money power,presence of mafia, power exercised by the criminals, restwill be alright. We need to eliminate criminals whose ultimateaim is to grab national power through financing politicalparties," he said.

"For this, we need to address the basics of democracy. Thegovernance of democracy needs to be sanitised. We need to workon a system which is free and fair", Moily said.

He emphasised the need to reflect the voice of the peoplein the proposals put forward for electoral reforms and alsofor "sanitising the criminal justice system" by ensuring thatall corruption cases both at the state and the central levelare tried within six months.

Social auditing may also have to be included in theelectoral reforms, Moily said.

Curbing criminalisation of politics, which has beensuggested by previous committees through enforcement ofdisclosure of criminal antecedents of candidates andeligibility restriction for candidates with criminal casespending against them, has been opposed by every politicalparty, Chief Election Commissioner S Y Quraishi said.

This opposition is based mainly on two premises, firstthat generally most of the criminal cases lodged are "false"and secondly, according to law of the land everybody isinnocent until proven guilty, "which is nothing but amockery of the electoral system", he said.

Quraishi said at present there are four lakh prisoners inthe country out of which 67 per cent are under trials. Thereisa need to find a legal answer through a fast track method toensure speedy completion of trials.

The EC has suggested that a criminal case filed prior tosix months before an election would lead to disqualificationof candidate. In addition, the Commission proposed thatcandidates found guilty by a Commission of Enquiry shouldstand disqualified.

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