New Delhi, Jan 15: Candidates facing grave charges of murder and other crimes should be disqualified from contesting elections in a bid to decriminalise politics, says the Election Commission.
It also wants the growing menace of paid news to be made an electoral offence to provide a level-playing field in elections.
The Commission has made recommendations to the government against candidates facing cases in which charges are framed by courts which could attract a sentence of five years.
Now it is for the government to bring legislative amendments to the electoral law to achieve these objectives, says Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath.
"This is one of the long-pending demands of the Election Commission in electoral reforms arena. We have said for quite some time that it is not sufficient that people are disqualified on conviction.
Earlier, even after conviction, the legislator was allowed to run the rest of the term by filing an appeal. That was remedied by the 5SC order on instant disqualification upon conviction.
"But what we are asking is why allow the person who is likely to be convicted later creating a vacancy, preventing even at the contest stage (criminal candidates) with of course some safeguards," he said.
Sampath, who turned 65, demitted office today as CEC after an eventful tenure of less than six years, occasionally marked by controversies that saw him conduct two Lok Sabha elections and at least one round of Assembly polls in all the states.