New Delhi, Aug. 26: A parliamentary committee has said the Election Commission’s orders “sometimes appear to encroach upon the legislative power of Parliament” and advocated statutory backing for the model code of conduct, framed after consulting parties.
“The instructions/orders issued by Election Commission appear to be encroaching upon legislative powers of Parliament. The committee stresses upon the government that such instructions/ orders be suitably incorporated in the Representation of People Act, 1951,” the committee said in its report submitted today.
The commission has powers to register parties but not to deregister them, the House panel said. The commission, the panel said, assumes such powers under the Election Symbol (Reservation and Allotment) Order.
Symbols can also be taken away for such breach of rules, leaving the party almost dysfunctional, said the panel.
Therefore, said the committee headed by Congress Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik, the model code should be brought under the 1951 law to ensure such powers are not used in a “vacuum”.
“The committee strongly feels it is expedient to enact a law for giving statutory backup to the model code of conduct, leaving no vacuum for the ECI (the poll panel) to exercise its power which is residuary in nature. The committee recommends that provisions of the model code be formed a part of Representation of People Act, 1951, or rules framed thereunder for free and fair elections.”
The committee also made other suggestions. One is that the model code be enforced from the date of notification of polls instead of the announcement date as is the case now.
Another is that the valuation of candidates’ properties not be made at current market prices but at rates when they were acquired or inherited. “Present rates many a times lead to the impression the property or assets were acquired through unaccountable sources,” its report said.
Revisions have been sought in election expenses of candidates to make them more “realistic”. No outer limit has been mentioned but the current cap goes up to Rs 25 lakh for Lok Sabha polls. Another suggestion is to set up fast-track courts to settle election disputes within a year.