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Speed up poll reforms, Quraishi urges PM

Delhi,Politics, Fri, 13 Apr 2012 IANS

New Delhi, April 13 (IANS) Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi Friday wrote to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for speeding up long-pending electoral reforms.


Sources said the poll panel chief in his letter said that the reforms, including preventing people with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections, should be "expeditiously considered and approved".


Although the contents of the letter were not available, official sources said the poll panel has been suggesting steps to reform the electoral process since 1998.


On top of the poll panel's list is preventing people with criminal background from becoming legislators.


The panel has proposed that a person should be disqualified if charges against him/her are framed by a court for an offence punishable by imprisonment of five years or more.


Under the existing law, a person is disqualified once he/she is convicted and sentenced to imprisonment of two years or more.


The poll panel has also suggested reforms for political parties.


It 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. This was first proposed in July 1998.


The commission also suggested that political parties should be legally required to get their accounts audited annually, and it should be put in the public domain. It has proposed transparency in the fund raising and expenditure of political parties.


Another proposal is to prevent misuse of religion for electoral gain.


The poll panel has also suggested amendment of the law to make `paid news' an electoral offence.


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