The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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EC sight set on foreign shores

Ahmedabad, May 11: The Election Commission is considering a UN proposal to sign a memorandum of understanding to help restore the democratic process in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq.

The signing of the MoU will establish “our (commission’s) credibility in foreign countries, wherever the UN seeks our expertise and services in conducting polls’’, election commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy said.

He was speaking at the first national workshop on “Electoral Reforms and Rights to Information”, organised by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR).

Krishnamurthy cited the example of Australia whose Election Charter allows its poll panel to compete financially with countries in holding elections in other countries.

The Constitution does not authorise the Election Commission to do this, he said. Krishnamurthy, however, was quick to say “we are satisfied with the present arrangement and its financial position’’.

He called for a comprehensive law to ensure good governance as existing provisions were “scattered’’ and had loopholes that prevented free and fair elections.

According to Krishnamurthy, India has, so far, been taking only piecemeal steps to reform the election process.

The Bhattacharya Committee set up to review election laws, he said, has recommended a separate law for the formation and conduct of political parties to make them accountable to the people about their activities, funds and expenditure.

He said there is no law at present to regulate party funding. So the commission, Krishnamurthy said, will fully support a comprehensive law.

“We have reasons to be proud — for having a reasonably good election system, which we are fine-tuning and will continue to further improve,” the election commissioner said.

The commission, however, was facing problems in implementing certain election rules such as information disclosure which, by itself, cannot ensure good candidates or good governance. But it would be an important step in that direction, he said.

Krishnamurthy sought the help of people’s voluntary organisations such as ADR in disseminating information on poll rules.

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