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Q.1)  What do you mean by term “Digitalization”? How it will help in achieving cashless economy? What are the advantages and disadvantages of cashless economy? What are the various steps taken by government towards cashless economy?(GS-3)

Ans.

Meaning of Digitalization:

  • Digitalization is the integration of digital technologies into everyday life by the digitization of everything that can be digitized.
  • Digitalization also means the process of making digital everything that can be digitized and the process of converting information into digital format.

How it will help in achieving cashless economy?

  • Digitalization help in achieving cashless economy by increasing digital literacy and Internet access.
  • Through digitalization no liquid money is used by the society. All transactions are done by using cards or by digital means.
  • The people using the means of e-commerce, mobile banking or Internet banking for their purchase or for their transaction.

Advantages of cashless economy:

Advantages for the society:

  • Reduces the circulation of liquid money
  • The black money or parallel money cannot be able to sustain
  • The transaction process and purchase will made easy
  • No need to carry cash. Just carrying the required cards or mobile banking will suffice.
  • More sense of safety with a PAN protected card etc.
  • No fear of being robbed unlike carrying cash and letting everyone know that there could be something worth snatching.
  • Now labour get their payment in their bank accounts therefore minimum wages as per Indian Labour Law can be ensured.

  Advantages for the economy:

  • Digital payments indirectly reduce expenditure in manufacturing currency notes and its transportation.
  • Electronic transactions also help in curbing corruption and black money flow which in ameliorate economic growth.
  • It becomes easier to determine how much was spent where, and one able to manage the budget.
  • Cashless economy increase transparency in the system

Advantages for the government:

  • The government can control the financial transactions in the society.
  • More   transparency and easy to track money laundering and other such activities.
  • Helps to eliminate counterfeit currencies
  • If the government finds a person guilty government can block his/her transaction.

Disadvantage of cashless economy:

  • Higher risk of identity theft
  • Cashless transaction system is not widespread due to lack of education and technology gap which is a matter of concern and must be addressed by government or financial institutions.
  • Direct threat to cyber security and individual financial data.
  • Increase in online banking fraud.
  • As per the survey automation will cut 70,000 jobs in India.

What are the various steps taken by government towards cashless economy?

  • The Digital India Programme is the flagship programme launched by the Government of India with a vision to transfer India into digitally empowered society and knowledge economy.
  • The government has come up with a rash of discounts and freebies on digital transaction.
  • The Unified Payments Interface (UIP)-the payment system that allows mobile-enabled money transfer between bank accounts is also a step towards digitalization of economy.
  • Many banks have launched UPI apps, the Bharat Interface for Money (Bhim), the common app that can be used by anyone who has a bank account with a linked mobile number. Bhim provides a Smartphone front-end to make bank-to-bank payments.
  • The Finance minister in his budget speech announced two schemes for promoting Bhim- a referral scheme and a merchant cash-bank scheme
  • The government also unveiled two schemes –Lucky Grahak Yojana and Digi Dhan Vyapaar Yojana for customers and trades alike to promote mobile banking and e-payments.
  • Finance minister Arun Jaitley proposed a slew of measures to hasten India’s movement to a cashless economy like ban on cash transactions more than Rs 3 lakh, tax breaks for the creation of a cashless infrastructure, greater usage of non-cash modes of payments and making Aadhaar based payments more widespread.
  • The budget proposed to ban all cash transactions above Rs 3 lakh, in line with the recommendations of the Special Investigative Team (SIT) on black money.
  • The budget also announced the setting up of a separate payments regulator within the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to regulate the payment space. A review of the Payments and Settlements Act will also undertake, aimed at its overhaul.
  • Aadhaar pay, a merchant version of Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System (AEPS), will be launched soon to enable those who do not have debit cards, mobile wallets and mobile phones to make digital payments.
  • The budget also suggested additional cashless initiatives like Aadhaar-based smart cards for senior citizens.
  • The budget also announced a computer emergency response team for the financial sector (CERT-Fin) to increase of digital transactions.

Conclusion

Becoming digital is indeed the way forward for India, due to a number of attendant benefits, such as ease of access and operation, and also because of the spill-over effects in the domain of curbing corruption and maladministration. But, at the same time, the importance of becoming digital with the necessary security in place, coupled, with ensuring greater awareness and access for the deprived populace is also a priority that should not be ignored.

India needs to have a legal framework that meets with the expectations, both legal and of a public nature, as prevail in the jurisdictions from which data is being shipped to India.

Q.2) Aadhaar has been in the headlines since a decade now. Discuss the need for Aadhaar in Indian democracy. What is JAM? What are the challenges for implementation of JAM? (GS-1)

Context:

  • The Centre has instructed the States not to deny Public Distribution System benefits to any person who does not have Aadhaar or has not linked the ration card to the 12-digit biometric identifier
  • It also asked the States not to delete eligible households from the list of beneficiaries for non-possession of Aadhaar.

Ministry’s decision:

  • The Ministry’s directive mentions that until Aadhaar is assigned to the beneficiary, subsidised foodgrains will have to be given on production of ration card, enrolment slip and other stipulated documents.
  • Irrespective of whether all members of an eligible household have Aadhaar, full quantity of subsidised foodgrains or transfer of food subsidy on complaince with the requirements will have to be extended.
  • Even in the case of failure of biometric authentication due to a glitch or poor biometric quality, the beneficiary will have to be given the benefits on production of Aadhaar card along with the ration card.

What is Aadhaar?

  • The Aadhaar is the  name of the Unique Identification Number that the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) issues to every resident of India.
  • It is a twelve digit number which is linked the resident’s demographic and biometric information.
  • The data is collected by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), a statutory authority established in January 2009 by the Government of India, under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, under the provisions of the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016.

What is the need of Aadhaar?

  • The Aadhaar Project is an attempt to aid in real time verification.
  • The objective of the scheme is to issue a unique identification number which can be authenticated and verified online.
  • A large part of the Indian population had no IDs or relied on IDs like ration cards and Voter Cards.
  • This necessitated the need for a single digital ID which could be verified anytime, anywhere in India.
  • The Aadhaar would also facilitate the access to host of governmental benefits and services.
  • For the effective enforcement of individual rights it became necessary to have a unique identification number.
  • A clear registration and recognition of the individual identity with the state is necessary to implement their rights, to employment, education, food etc.
  • Aadhaar project has been linked to some public subsidy and unemployment benefit schemes like the domestic LPG scheme and MGNREGS. In these Direct Benefit Transfer schemes, the subsidy money is directly transferred to a bank account which is Aadhaar-linked.
  • On 29 July 2011, the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas signed a memorandum of understanding with UIDAI. The Ministry had hoped the ID system would help them eliminate loss of the subsidised kerosene and LPG. In May 2012, the government announced that it will begin issuing Aadhaar-linked MGNREGS cards On 26 November 2012, a pilot project was launched in 51 district

What is UIDAI?

  • The Unique Identification Authority of India was established in 2009 and functions as part of the Planning Commission of India.
  • UIDAI is a government agency that has been mandated by the government to develop, identify and set up the necessary infrastructure for issuing Aadhaar cards and
  • robust enough to eliminate duplicate and fake identities, and
  • can be verified and authenticated in an easy, cost-effective way.
  • The agency issues cards with the help of several registrar agencies composed of state-owned entities and departments as well as public sector banks and entities such as the Life Insurance Corporation of India.

What is JAM?

  • JAM (short for Jan Dhan-Aadhaar-Mobile) trinity refers to the government of India initiative to link Jan Dhan accounts, Mobile numbers and Aadhar cards of Indians to plug the leakages of government subsidies.

Benefits:

  • The three modes of identification would help deliver direct benefits to India’s poor.
  • The Aadhaar would help in direct biometric identification of disadvantaged citizens.
  • Jan Dhan Bank accounts and mobile phones will help direct transfer of funds into their accounts.
  • The scheme would bring all Indians into the mainstream and would end the social as well as economic exclusion.
  • The government can transfer resources to citizens faster and more reliably and with less leakage.
  • It will help government to identify various beneficiaries of various schemes.
  • It will be generate huge infrastructure available at lower cost.

What are the challenges for implementation of JAM?

  • Economic Survey divides JAM issues  into three components-
  • Identification or First-Mile:  Identification of beneficiaries by government
  • Transfer or Middle-Mile: Transfer of fund to beneficiaries by government
  • Access or Last-Mile: Access of fund by beneficiaries

The challenges of these components are as follows:

  • First-mile has issues of ghost and duplicate names due to administrative and political discretion and use of pre-Aadhaar database.  beneficiary eligibility and identification as a first mile challenge has been acknowledged.It points to the need for beneficiary databases and the fact that the “accuracy and legitimacy of beneficiary databases have been hampered by the administrative and political discretion involved in grating identity proofs”. Indeed, the reason why the rollout of the National Food Security Act was extremely delayed was the fact that many state governments were reluctant to clean up and digitise their beneficiary databases.
  • The middle-mile challenge relates to coordination within the government – the lesser number of departments involved in administering a particular subsidy, the easier it is to roll out DBT. In the case of domestic fuel, for example, DBT was easier in the case of LPG because only the union petroleum ministry and the oil marketing companies (and their distributor. Main issue in this layer is of within-government coordination and dealing with supply chain interest groups.
  • Last-mile layer faces issues of lesser Bank penetration, mostly in rural areas.The last-mile challenge is a significant one, which both supporters and critics of DBT have often flagged – the problem of banking infrastructure in rural areas and the failure of the banking correspondent model to take off. The Survey admits that “despite Jan Dhan Yojana’s record breaking feats, basic savings account penetration in most states is still relatively low” (46 per cent on average) and that mobile payments has not quite taken off in the rural areas. It also deals with issues of exclusion of genuine beneficiaries.

Other challenges are as follows:

  • The process of putting new infrastructure in place can be extremely disruptive, as lack of education will make it difficult to understand new procedures.
  • Aadhar accounts are not sufficiently opened as certain issues like privacy are affecting its credibility
  • Some concerns about the effectiveness of Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to all schemes.
  • For example: farmers are criticising they it would be difficult to pay high upfront costs for fertiliser and then wait for payments through banks.

What are the measures to be taken?

  • Economic Survey argues that policymakers should decide where to apply JAM based on two considerations of:
  • Amount of leakages: If amount of the leakages in a given scheme/area is huge then it can be next target for introduction of JAM as subsidies with higher leakages will have larger returns from introducing JAM.
  • Control of the central government: Control of central government will reduce administrative challenges of co-ordination and political challenges of opposition by interest groups.
  • Finance ministry should provide adequate and timely disbursement of transaction processing charges for the bank and agent network.
  • There should be an increase in penetration of banks and financial institutions in rural areas.
  • Strict monitoring of subsidy routes is to be maintained. Any suspicious activity should be thoroughly investigated by vigilance agencies
  • Banking Corresponding agents can be used to educate farmers not to fall into traps of moneylenders.
  • There is need for infrastructure like cellular towers, cheap mobile plans because without mobile connectivity JAM would be meaningless.
  • Government should see to it that various schemes like Smart City, Skill India, Digital India, Make In India are integrated with JAM and DBT so that less leakage and more productive results are achieved faster.

What are the schemes linked to Aadhaar?

  • Proof of identity: Aadhaar is accepted as a valid identity proof by the Central and all State governments for availing services, including application for passport, opening of bank or insurance accounts, getting telephone and mobile phone connections, and buying rail tickets and availing concessions.
  • Verifications of electoral rolls: In order to keep a check on multiple entries in electoral rolls, the Election Commission has started a drive to include Aadhaar number along with Electors Photo Identity Card or voter ID card.
  • Bank Accounts and transactions: The Centre made quoting of Aadhaar mandatory for opening of bank accounts as well as for any financial transaction of 50,000 and above.
  • Provident fund: The Employees Provident Fund Organisation allots a Universal Account Number in order to facilitate smooth transfer of funds when an employee switches companies.
  • By linking his/her Aadhaar to this UAN, the employee can transfer the PF amount directly to the saving account.
  • Filing I-T returns: The government has made it mandatory to link Aadhaar with PAN to eliminate multiple PAN used by individuals.

What is Public Distribution System?

  • Public distribution system (PDS), launched in June 1947, is an Indian food security system.
  • Established by the Government of India under Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food, and Public Distribution and are managed jointly by state governments in India.
  • Public distribution system is a government-sponsored chain of shops entrusted with the work of distributing basic food and non-food commodities to the needy sections of the society at very cheap prices.
  • Wheat, rice, kerosene, sugar, etc. are a few major commodities distributed by the public distribution system.

Problems of Public Distribution System:

  • Corruption: The PDS which was introduced to protect the food security of poor is highly corrupted.
  • The collusion between officials and sellers create a way to distribute poor quality of entitlements or less than the actual amount to beneficiaries.
  • Substandard quality: Public distribution system in country suffers from irregular and poor quality of entitlements that distributed through fair price shops.
  • Adulteration, quality and underweight is a major problem faced by the beneficiaries.
  • Fake ration cards: The presence of fake ration cards are the cards that are issued for fictitious family and genuine ration cards are used by someone else.
  • The actual entitlements that are meant for poor households are thus deprived. 
  • Wrong classification of economic status: Households are wrongly classified into incorrect class i.e. above poverty line (APL), below poverty line (BPL) and Anthyodaya Anna Yojana (AAY) to distribute the PDS entitlements.

What is the Aadhaar Act, 2016?

  • The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 is a money bill of the Parliament of India.
  • It was passed on the 11 March 2016 by the Lok Sabha.
  • It aims to provide legal backing to the Aadhaar unique identification number project.

Benefits:

  • Aadhaar Act seeks to provide efficient, transparent and targeted delivery of subsidies, benefits and services to individuals residing in India by assigning them unique identity numbers (UID) or Aadhaar number.
  • It will be used for all benefit that will be linked to consolidated fund of India or the expenditure incurred from it.
  • Both central and state government can use Aadhaar for disbursal for benefits and subsidies.

What is the debate between Aadhaar and Right to Privacy?

  • Aadhaar is a product of what started as an idea of biometric identity cards for the Border States in India in the wake of the increased terrorist activity.
  • But now the government is trying to implement the new UID scheme by masking it as a developmental agenda.
  • Deeper questions of surveillance by the state, invasion of privacy at all levels, and the very fact of human beings being depicted to be mere numbers in the eyes of state leading to violation of dignity arise as a result of the UID project.
  • Every decision made by a human in India could be under state surveillance.
  • This could potentially lead to the denial of, and access to, many important social opportunities and other facilities for a particular section of people, who could be discriminated against by the state, using the information gathered from the UID.

What are the issues with Aadhaar?

  1. Questionable Legal Backing: The current legal backing of Aadhar is via a money bill. The Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 came into force in 2016, but this is now challenged in Supreme Court.
  2. Issues with sharing information collected under Aadhaar – The provisions in the Aadhaar (Targeted Delivery of Financial and other Subsidies, benefits and services) Act, 2016 Act with regard to the protection of identity information and authentication records may be affected by recent verdict by Supreme Court that Right to Privacy is a Fundamental Right.
  3. Violation of rights – It was argued that the UIDAI might share the biometric information of people with other government agencies and thus would violate people’s right to privacy. They also thought that using the biometric data, people might be singled out, tracked, harassed and have their rights violated. A five-judge bench of the apex court will test the validity of Aadhaar from the aspect of privacy as a Fundamental Right soon.
  4. Has potential to profile individuals – The Act does not specifically prohibit law enforcement and intelligence agencies from using the Aadhaar number as a link (key) across various datasets (such as telephone records, air travel records, etc.) in order to recognise patterns of behaviour. Techniques such as various computer programmes across data sets for pattern recognition can be used for detecting potential illegal activities. However, there may be chances that innocent individuals can be identified incorrectly.
  5. Discretionary powers of UIDAI – The Act empowers the UID authority to specify demographic information that may be collected. The only restriction imposed on the authority is that it shall not record information pertaining to race, religion, caste, language, records of entitlements, income or health of the individual. This power will allow the authority to collect additional personal information, without prior approval from Parliament. Furthermore, UID has exclusive power to make complaints and the courts cannot take cognizance of any offence punishable under the Aadhaar Act unless a complaint is made by the UID authority.
  6. The time period for maintaining authentication records – The bill does not specify the maximum duration for which authentication records may be stored by the UID authority. Instead, it allows the UID authority to specify this through regulations. Maintaining authentication records over a long time period may be misused for activities such as profiling an individual’s behaviour

Conclusion:

  • Even though Aadhaar passes through a series of controversies, it is in the hands of the common mass and the government to make it successful.
  • The success of Aadhaar implies a country free from terrorism and poverty.

Q.3) The Election Commission of India is one of the pillars of democracy in the country.In this context, discuss the role of this institution in strengthening democracy in India.Discuss some of the reforms advocated by the Commission over the years. (GS-1)

Context:

  • A petition was filed in the Supreme Court pointing out the vagueness in the procedure for removal of Election Commissioners.
  • The petitioner added that the ambiguity on the removal procedure of the Election Commissioners might affect the functional independence of the Election Commission.

Role of Election Commission in India

What is Election Commission of India?

  • The Election Commission was established in 1950.
  • It is a permanent and an independent body established by the Constitution of India directly to ensure free and fair elections in the country.
  • Article 324 of the Constitution provides that the power of superintendence, direction and control of elections to parliament, state legislatures, the office of president of India and the office of vice-president of India shall be vested in the election commission.
  • The Commission is an all India body having jurisdiction over elections to Parliament, State Legislatures, offices of the president and Vice-President.

What is the composition of Election Commission of India?

  • Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners: The President appoints Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners.
  • They have tenure of six years, or up to the age of 65 years, whichever is earlier.
  • They enjoy the same status and receive salary and perks as available to Judges of the Supreme Court of India.
  • The Chief Election Commissioner can be removed from office only through impeachment by Parliament.
  • Two-thirds of the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha need to vote against him for disorderly conduct or improper actions.
  • Regional commissioners: The president may also appoint after consultation with the election commission such regional commissioners as he may consider necessary to assist the election commission.
  • State level: At the state level, the election work is supervised, subject to overall superintendence, direction and control of the Commission, by the Chief Electoral Officer of the State.
  • District and constituency levels: At the district and constituency levels, the District Election Officers, Electoral Registration Officers and Returning Officers, who are assisted by a large number of junior functionaries, perform election work.

What are the powers and functions of Election Commission of India?

  • The powers and functions of the Election Commission with regard to elections to the Parliament, state legislatures and offices of President and Vice-President can be classified into three categories:

Administrative:

  • The commission has the powers to function in accordance to the Delimitation Commission Act of the Parliament.
  • It can decide the territorial boundaries of the electoral constituencies.
  • It has the powers to register or deregister a political party.
  • It enforces the ‘Model Code of Conduct’ and ensures the implementation of it.
  • It keeps a check on the election expenses of the political parties to ensure a level playing field for all the political parties irrespective of their size and thus the capacity to spend.

Advisory:

  • The Commission has the powers to advise the President of India regarding the disqualifications of the members of Parliament.
  • The Commission also advises the Governor with respect to the disqualifications of members of the State Legislature.
  • It advises the High Court / Supreme Court in matters related to post election disputes.
  • It advises the president whether elections can be held in a state under president’s rule in order to extend the period of emergency after one year.

Quasi-Judicial

  • The Election Commission has the powers to settle disputes with respect to the recognition granted to the political parties.
  • It is also authorised to act as a court for matters related to disputes arising out of allotment of election symbols to the political parties.
  • It can request the president or the governor for requisitioning the staff necessary for conducting elections.

What is the significance of Election Commission in the context of Indian democracy?   

  • In democracy elections play a vital role because during the elections they create consciousness among the voters.
  • Elections usher in awakening in society, impart political educations and bring about national unity.
  • Elections provide a way for the citizens of India to choose their leaders which ensures the fact that the will of the people is reflected in the elected candidates.
  • Election is a device which a modern state creates amongst its citizens a sense of involvement and participation in public affairs.
  • Most importantly, the vote of the citizens serves to emphasis the importance for a democratic state of seeing the fact that the power to form a government ultimately rests on their hands.

What are the loopholes in the functioning of the election commission?

  • The Constitution has not prescribed the qualifications (legal, educational, administrative or judicial) of the members of the Election Commission.
  • The Constitution has not specified the term of the members of the Election Commission.
  • The Constitution has not debarred the retiring election commissioners from any further appointment by the government.
  • Even though the Chief Election Commissioner and the Election Commissioners enjoy the same decision-making powers, however, Article 324(5) does not provide similar protection to the Election Commissioners.

What are the recent reforms in the Election Commission of India (ECI)?

  • Electronic Voting Machine: Since there were clear evidences of booth capturing and problems in counting votes, the Election Commission of India introduced Electronic Voting Machines.
  • The machines are to bring transparency and minimum human discretion in the voting process.
  • Code of Conduct: The ECI formulated code of conduct when the election dates are announced, co-ordinates with administrative machinery to strictly enforce the do’s and don’ts in elections to ensure a transparent voting.
  • None of the Above(NOTA): Recently introduced, NOTA has been mentioned in electoral voting machine to not chose any candidate mentioned in the machine ,thereby giving citizen right to reject.
  • Amendments to the Representation of People’s Act: The Election Commission is preparing a proposal seeking an amendment to Section 58A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which empowers to adjourn or cancel elections on the ground of booth-capturing.

Other reforms proposed by Election Commission of India over the years:

De-criminalization of politics:

  • For preventing persons with criminal background from becoming legislators, the Commission has made a proposal for disqualifying (from contesting election) a person against whom charges have been framed by a Court for an offence punishable by imprisonment of 5 years or more.
  • Under the existing law (ROP Act, 51) there is a disqualification once a person is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more (in the case of certain offences mentioned in sub-sections (1)  of Section-8, conviction itself leads to disqualification, even without any sentence of imprisonment).
  • The Commission’s proposal is for disqualification even prior to conviction, provided the court has framed charges.
  • As a precaution against foisting false cases on the eve of election, it has been suggested that only those cases in which charges are framed six months prior to an election should be taken into account for that election.

Political parties reforms:

  • The Commission has suggested that legal provisions be made to regulate the functioning of political parties and the Commission should be empowered to regulate registration as well as de-registration of political parties.
  • The political parties should be legally required to get their accounts audited annually. The audited accounts should be put in public domain. There should be transparency in the fund raising and expenditure of political parties..
  • Income tax exemption for donations should be given only for those political parties which contest election and win seats in the Parliament/State Legislature.

Misuse of religion for electoral gain:

  • A Bill was introduced in the LokSabha in 1994 [R.P. (second amendment) Bill,1994], whereby an amendment was proposed providing for provision to question before a High Court, acts of misuse of religion by political parties. The Bill lapsed on the dissolution of the LokSabha in 1996. The Commission has proposed thatthe provision in that Bill should be considered again.

Amendment of law to make `paidnews’ an electoral offence:

  • The Commission has been proposed amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1951, to provide therein that publishing and abetting the publishing of `paid news’ for furthering the prospect of election of any candidate or for prejudicially affecting the prospect of election of any candidate be made an electoral offence with punishment of a minimum of two years imprisonment.

Punishment for electoral offences to be enhanced:

  • Undue influence and bribery at elections are electoral offences under Sections 171B and 171C, respectively, of the IPC. These offences are non-cognizable offences, with punishment provision of one year’s imprisonment, or fine, or both.
  • Under Section 171-G, publishing false statement in connection with election with intent to affect the result of an election, is punishable with fine only.

Government sponsored advertisements:

  • For six months prior to the date of expiry of the term of the House, there should be a ban on advertisements on achievements of the Government.
  • Advertisements/dissemination of information on poverty alleviation and health related schemes could be exempted from the ban.

Prohibition of Campaign during the Last 48 Hours:

  • Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, prohibits electioneering activities by way of public meetings, public performance, processions, advertisements through cinematograph, television or similar apparatus during the period of 48 hours before the time fixed for conclusion of poll. However, this Section does not include print media.
  • The Commission has proposed that Section 126 should apply equally to the print media also. • The Commission has further proposed that house to house visits by candidates/supporters should also be specifically prohibited during the period of 48 hours, to allow the electors period of tranquil to decide their option. Necessary amendments should be carried out in Section 126.

Punishment for false affidavit by candidates:

  • Section -125A of R.P. Act, 51, provides that furnishing false information in the affidavit filed by the candidate is an offence punishable by imprisonment upto six months or with fine.
  • There is no clear provision for follow-up action in the event of candidates filing false affidavits.
  • There are several complaints of false statements in affidavits, false statements mislead the electors.
  • In order to strengthen the disclosure provision, the Commission has recommended that Section-125A of R.P. Act, 51, should be amended to provide that any complaint regarding false statement in the affidavit filed by the candidates in connection with the nomination paper shall be filed before the Returning Officer (RO) concerned within a period of 30 days from the date of declaration of the election and that it shall be the responsibility of the RO to take proper follow-up action Alternatively, complaint can lie directly to the Magistrate Court.

Negative/neutral voting:

  • In the ballot paper and on the ballot unit, after the particulars relating to the last candidate, there should be provisions for a column `none of the above’ to enable a voter to reject all candidates if he sodesires.

Amendment of law to provide for filing of election petition even against defeated candidates on the ground of corrupt practice:

  • As per the existing law, election petition (EP) can be filed only for challenging an election of the returned candidate (winner).
  • If a defeated candidate has indulged in corrupt practice, there is no provision for election petition against such candidate.
  • Commission has recommended that the law should be amended to provide for filing of EP in cases of commission of corrupt practice by a losing candidate as well.

Ban on transfer of election officers on the eve of election:

  • In the case of general election, there should be a ban against transferring any election related officer without the concurrence of the Commission for a period of six months prior to the expiry of the term of the House.

Rule making authority to be vested in the Commission:

  • The Commission should be given the power to frame rules under the R.P. Act, 1950 and

Totalizer for counting of votes:

  • The proposal is for amendment of the Rules to provide for the use of totalizer for counting of votes at EVM elections.
  • Using totalizer , it would be possible to take out the results of votes polled in a group of 14 EVMs together as against the present practice of counting votes polling station wise.
  • In such a system of counting, the trend of voting in individual polling station areas would not be known.  This will prevent intimidation and  post election victimization of electors.
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