Electoral Reforms in India – Issues, Need, Election Reforms UPSC PDF

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

Electoral Reforms in India mean the development and change in the election process in India. The Electoral Reforms aim to facilitate free and fair elections, clean politics, and ideal members of a legislative house. It helps in making Indian democracy a real democracy in the letter as well as in spirit. Article 324-329 of the Indian Constitution deals with elections and the electoral system.

Election Reforms in India have made the election process much safer for voters and candidates. Moreover, it has regulated the electoral process to eliminate malpractices involved during elections. Electoral Reforms are one of the vital topics under the Indian Polity syllabus of the IAS Exam. Here you will learn about the need for Electoral Reforms in India before and after 2010, the latest news, and the way forward.

Electoral Reforms in India

Electoral Reforms in India are a testament to the evolution and optimistic changes in the election process to promote fair competition, the practice of clean politics, equal representation, etc.

Electoral Reforms in India PDF

The Electoral Reforms In India can be divided into two major phases-

  • Electoral Reforms in India before 2010
  • Electoral Reforms in India after 2010

Recently, Sushil Chandra, Chief Election Commissioner of India, wrote to Ravi Shankar Prasad, the Law Minister of India, to request fast act on the proposals of electoral reforms pending with the Government. This includes the enhanced two-year jail term that could bar the candidates from contesting the elections for the next 6 years.

Core Issues in Electoral Politics in India

It is important to understand the issues to implement better Electoral Reforms in India. No matter how strong the Indian electoral system is, it has to face many challenges. The significant challenges in the Indian Electoral System are given below.

  • Money Power: An election is an expensive act in all the democratic polity. The money spent by an individual sometimes exceeds the limit. Money power leads to a destructive role in the electoral system that impacts periodic elections seriously as candidates have to spend a lot of money for their publicity and campaigning.
  • Muscle Power: The criminalization of politics and the politicization of criminals are like two aspects of the same story and are mainly accountable for muscle power in the Election. There are a lot of reports of untoward and illegal acts like booth capturing, violence, etc.
  • Misuse of Government Machinery: It generally complains that the Government in power often misuses official machinery to further the election prospects of its candidates. They use government vehicles or disbursements from the discretionary funds when the ministers are disposed of.
  • The criminalization of Politics and Politicisation of criminals: Nexus between the two groups of Politicians and Criminals ensure each other’s survival in Indian democracy. Criminals use money and muscle powers to enter politics and ensure that the cases against them have not proceeded. Political parties also field such candidates with a criminal background to secure a seat for the Party.
  • Casteism: In India, many political leaders use the caste issue as a political agency to divide the people for their benefit of votes.
  • Freebies in the Election: Providing free liquor or some goods to voters are done to appeal to the voters.
  • Paid News and Fake News: Paid news is imprinted as a news item in the way of advertisement. Social media also transmits fake information.

Electoral Reforms in India Before 2010

The critical details of the Electoral Reforms in India before 2010 are as follows-

  • According to the 61st Constitutional Amendment Act of 1988, the voting age was officially reduced from 21 years to 18 years for Lok Sabha and assembly elections.
  • Electronic voting machines were implemented by a provision made in 1989.
  • The election commission 1993 issued the use of the elector’s photo identity card or EPIC to make the electoral process more straightforward and efficient.
  • Upon violating the National Honour Act of 1971, the candidate will be disqualified for six years from contesting any state legislatures or Parliament elections.
  • In 1989 a provision was facilitated for the suspension of a poll or revoking elections in case of booth capturing.
  • There was a ban on the sale of liquor within the polling for 48 hours.
  • In 1980, a provision was made that stated any staff or officers involved in the preparation, correction, or revision of the electoral process will be considered on the delegation of the election commission during the employment period.
  • In 1988 there was a hike in the number of candidates for elections to legislative councils and Rajya Sabha.

Electoral Reforms in India After 2010

The critical points of the Electoral Reforms in India after 2010 are as under-.

  • The election commission puts a restriction on the election expenditure. The Lok Sabha election expenditure was 50 to 70 lakhs, and it was 20 to 28 lakhs for assembly elections.
  • January 25 was to be observed as National Voters Day to mark the founding of the Election Commission.
  • In 2013, the Election Commission decided to expand the postal ballot services in the country.
  • Before the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the EC announced that the exit poll results would only be broadcasted after completing the final phase of the elections.
  • NOTA or none of the above was introduced as a ballot option.
  • In January 2018, the Government of India made election funding more transparent by introducing an electron bond scheme.
  • VVPAT, or Voter Verified Paper Audit Trail, was introduced to help voters verify if their vote was cast correctly.
  • Candidates who declare false information in the affidavit are liable to punishment of imprisonment of up to 6 months, a hefty fine, or both.

Need for Electoral Reforms in India

The Electoral Reforms in India were set up to bring better participation of Indian citizens in the electoral process. Here are the basic needs that led to the Electoral Reforms in India-

  • The Goswami Committee on Electoral Reform 1990 observed the crippling effect of money and muscle power in elections.
  • The N. Vohra committee, which submitted its report in October 1993, studied the problem of criminalization of politics and the nexus among politicians, bureaucrats, and criminals in India. According to the CBI committee, IB had unanimously expressed their opinion that the criminal network is virtually running a parallel government.
  • The Law Commission has said that in the last ten years since 2004, 18% of the candidates contesting national and state assembly elections had one or more criminal cases against them.
  • The 18th report presented by a parliamentary committee to the Rajya Sabha in March 2007 said that there should not be a person from a criminal background.
  • The report said, “criminalization of politics is the bane of society and negates democracy.”

Committees on Electoral Reforms in India

Electoral reforms in India possess the ability to strengthen democracy. It is needed for bringing forth effective reforms in the election process. Numerous electoral reforms are needed in India. The Dinesh Goswami Committee is concerned with state funding of elections.

There are three different Committees on Electoral Reforms in India. These committees are-

  • Dinesh Goswami Committee
  • Jeevan Reddy Committee
  • Tarkunde Committee

Electoral Reforms in India UPSC

Electoral Reforms in India are a crucial topic concerning Indian polity and, thus, have been an essential topic for the IAS Exam. Many questions have been asked about the topic in the Prelims and Mains exams. So, you need to have a detailed understanding of the Electoral Reforms in India.

Electoral Reforms in India Questions

Also, you can check the UPSC Previous Year Question Papers to judge your preparation for the exam. A few of the Electoral Reforms in India questions that have been asked in the Prelims and Mains exam are as under-

Question– Prelims Question- The Representation of the People (Amendment) Act, 2003, passed by the Parliament of India, sought to: [A] Provide the facility to opt to vote through the proxy to the service voters belonging to the armed forces. [B] Introduce an open ballot system for elections to the Council of States. [C] Insert provision regarding the supply of copies of electoral rolls to candidates of recognized political parties. [D] Make it mandatory for political parties to report all cases of contributions received above Rs.20000 to the Election Commission.

Answer: (Option B) Introduce an open ballot system for elections to the Council of States.

Question: Dinesh Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms was appointed by the [A] United Front Government, [B] BJP-led Coalition Government, [C] United Progressive Alliance Government,  [D] National Front Government

Answer: (Option D) National Front Government

Question for Mains: The role played by the Election Commission of India has bestowed a very high level of confidence in the minds of Indian citizens in ensuring the purity of the elected legislative bodies in the country. Critically examine.

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