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Bar criminals from polls: EC

Election Commissioner SY Qureshi asked the government to enact a law to prevent criminals from contesting elections.

delhi Updated: Sep 15, 2008 19:52 IST

Election Commissioner SY Qureshi on Monday asked the government to enact a law to prevent criminals from contesting elections.

"If a court has framed charges against a candidate, he or she should be disqualified from contesting elections. Our proposal in this regard is pending with the government and we hope it will be passed sooner or later," Qureshi said during a Voter Awareness Campaign in New Delhi launched by the Akhil Bhartiya Jan Chetna Manch.

Low voter turnout and peoples' growing apathy towards the democratic process dominated the programme in which social activists, environmentalists and spiritual leaders came on a platform to share their concerns.

"There is no better governance than democracy but then people need to be involved in it. In urban India, not to cast vote appears to have become a fashion statement. There could be various reasons behind this apathy," Qureshi said.

He added that the Commission is increasing the number of booths from seven lakh to 8-9 lakh for future elections to provide easy access to voters.

Qureshi, hailed involvement of NGOs and social organisations in spreading voters' awareness.

"Officials of the Election Commission also make door-to-door visits while disbursing election IDs to voters in their respective homes. Even after all this, if there is apathy and indifference towards the democratic process, it is unfortunate," he said.

"Seventy per cent of population in the country is of youths. Their significance needs to be understood and youths, too, should take responsibility to strengthen democracy. We are the largest democracy but we should strive to become the greatest," Qureshi said.