Private member’s bill seeks Election Commission role in parties’ internal polling

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Congress MP Manish Tewari speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. File

Congress MP Manish Tewari speaks in the Lok Sabha during the Winter Session of Parliament, in New Delhi. File
| Photo Credit: PTI

Congress MP Manish Tewari has introduced a private member’s Bill in Lok Sabha seeking the Election Commission (EC) to be made responsible for regulating and monitoring the internal operations of political parties in the country.

Calling the internal functioning of most political parties “opaque and ossified”, the Bill seeks to provide the EC with the necessary wherewithal to regulate the internal functioning of all political parties registered with it and to withdraw their recognition as national or State parties if they fail to comply with the directions of the Commission with regard to their internal functioning. It says there is a need to make the functioning of political parties transparent, accountable and rule-based.

The Bill, named ‘Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2022’, also seeks to insulate the appointment process of election commissioners and mandates that they should not be eligible for any post-retirement jobs.

The proposed legislation seeks insertion of a new article, 328 (A), to empower the EC to regulate, monitor and superintend the elections in registered political parties in accordance with their respective constitutions until a Model Internal Code is prescribed by the EC.

“It shall be incumbent upon all registered political parties to incorporate the Model Election Code into their respective constitutions after its formulation by the Election Commission,” the Bill says.

It also seeks the members of the EC, including the Chief Election Commissioners, to be appointed by a panel consisting the Prime Minister, Union Home Minister, Leader of Opposition or floor leader in Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition or floor leader in Rajya Sabha, the Chief Justice of India and two senior most judges of the Supreme Court.

“It is also pertinent that the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners shall be given a fixed term of six years and the Regional Commissioners a fixed term of three years from the dates of their respective appointments. They should not be removed from office except in accordance with the procedure laid down for the removal of a Supreme Court judge,” it says.

The Bill also asks the government to ensure that after retirement, the Election Commissioners should not be eligible for any reappointment to any office under the Government of India, State governments and the Constitution.

It might be recalled that the Supreme Court had recently questioned the “haste” and “tearing hurry” with which Election Commissioner Arun Goel was appointed, with the file moving at “lightning speed” in 24 hours.

At the last count there are 2,858 political parties registered with the EC. Out of these eight are national parties, 54 are State parties and 2,797 are unrecognised.

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