A group of retired civil servants has written to the Election Commission of India, seeking poll reforms.
In an open letter, the Constitutional Conduct Group asked the EC to:
“(i) Move the Supreme Court for an early hearing of the electoral bonds case, to bring about transparency in election funding.
“(ii) Initiate a dialogue with representatives of political parties to facilitate the amendment of Article 102 of the Constitution of India to disqualify MPs/ MLAs, who defect after being elected on the ticket of a particular political party, from contesting any election for a period of six years from the date of defection.”
“(iii) Strengthen provisions of the Model Code of Conduct to bar all sectarian, divisive communal propaganda/ statements that are likely to influence the voting process and initiate severe action against offenders, including even prohibition from contesting polls for a specified period of time.
“(iv) With new forms of media coming into play, evolve norms to ensure fair play and even access to all forms of media — print, electronic and social.
“(v) Carry out social audit of electoral rolls.
“(vi) Develop a robust cross-verification system of EVMs through systematic VVPAT (paper audit slips) use.”
The group added: “We are now at a juncture where, in the next one year, general elections are due for the Lok Sabha as well as for a number of Legislative Assemblies of states. A host of issues, relating to money and muscle power, media and manipulation, the registration of voters and machine management, still await satisfactory resolution to ensure that the election process is carried out in a free and fair manner.”