The law ministry has finalised three key amendments to the existing law governing elections in its bid to decriminalise elections and check the flow of black money in the electoral process.
Law minister Salman Khursheed has endorsed the proposed changes in the Representation of People Act, mooted by his predecessor, M Veerappa Moily, and has forwarded a note for the cabinet's consideration to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
In doing so, the ministry has touched a political hot potato by proposing to disqualify those candidates from contesting elections against whom charges have been framed by competent courts for having allegedly committed heinous criminal offences, punishable with a jail term of five years and above, reported first by HT on June 23.
According to the draft bill, this provision will however not apply in cases where "the charges were framed in less than a year from the date of filing nominations".
The PMO has asked the law ministry to also consider the proposal that a person once convicted by any court of law should be disqualified from elections until he or she is acquitted by a higher court of law. There will be no immunity for a sitting MP or a legislator during the pendency of the appeal.
It has also suggested that any candidate who files a false affidavit regarding his/her asserts to contest an election should stand disqualified.
The draft bill provides for safeguards against politically motivated charges.
The third change in the election law is to provide for state funding for the women and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates of recognised political parties.