Monday, May 21, 2012

Parliamentary panel says that Code of Conduct should be incorporated in the Representation of People Act 1951

Shantaram Naik, member of Rajya Sabha from Goa and chairman of the standing committee on department of personnel and training and of law and justice, who has replaced Abhishek Manu Singhvi who bowed out after the alleged CD capturing a sexual romp, said that in the last 15 years the Election Commission has issued many executive orders, including the Code of Conduct, which amount to substantial law, cannot be allowed to hang in the air, and that it needs to be made part of the relevant legislation. He said that the commitee in its 51st and 52nd reports had recommended that the Code of Conduct should be made part of the Representation of People Act 1951 or its Rules made under the Act. He said that the Code of Conduct now is a voluntary code and it was not mandatory. If it is made part of the law enacted by parliament then it would become mandatory.
Naik said that Section 16 Para 16A of the Code of Conduct of 1968 provides that any person violating the code of conduct can be punished with the banning of the political party he belongs to. He said this provision has not been invoked so far because one after the other political parties can be banned and it will be the end of democracy. He said that this was an unimplementable law.
He said that the Election Commission was following the Supreme Court's guidelines with regard to code of conduct and said that the committee felt that this situation should end and that the Election Commission's executive orders should become part of law and this can be done only through parliament.
Naik also pointed out that the commitee had recommended that there should be a review of Article 324 of the Constitution relating to the Election Commission, which says that the committee is to conduct elections. He said it is necessary to review the Article so as to define the powers of the commission and the validity of its executive orders.  He disclosed that secretary to the Election Commission had deposed before the committee.

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