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Kalam clears poll reforms Ordinance

New Delhi, Aug. 25 (PTI): President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam has signed the Ordinance on electoral reforms after the Union Cabinet refused to make any changes in it and sent it back to him “as it is” for his assent.

The President put his seal of approval late last night after Attorney-General Soli J. Sorabjee met him and explained to the President the “nitty gritties” of the Ordinance.

Sorabjee told Kalam that the measure was based on an all-party consensus and any suggestion of his could be taken up when the Parliament debates it to turn it into an Act.

Sorabjee is also understood to have conveyed to the President that there is no attitude of confrontation on the part of government and that it held him in great regard.

The Ordinance has been published in the gazette following Kalam’s approval.

Early last week, the President had returned the Ordinance, seeking clarifications on the “absence” of provisions of the Election Commission’s 1997 guidelines that the candidates should declare their assets and any cases of conviction d and the Supreme Court proposal of disqualifying a candidate if charges were framed against him in two heinous crimes.

A special meeting of the Union Cabinet had yesterday decided not to make any changes and returned the Ordinance to the President, leaving him no option under the Constitution but to sign it.

“Considering the total political consensus on which the Bill to amend the Representation of the People’s Act, 1951 was drafted and the Ordinance being an exact replica of the Bill, the Cabinet decided to request the President to give assent to the promulgation of the Ordinance in its present form under Article 123,” an official spokesperson said after the Cabinet meeting.

The decision of the Cabinet was believed to have been taken in the light of a consensus arrived at in two all-party meetings.

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