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New pressure group emerges, supported by eminent citizens

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Electoral reforms demanded

1. A candidate should be disqualified for nomination if charges against him/her have been framed in a court of law for offence punishable by imprisonment of 2 years or more.

2. A person should be disqualified for contesting any election for minimum 6 years if he/she is convicted by a court for imprisonment up to 2 years.

3. If the person is convicted for imprisonment of more than 2 years, he/she must be disqualified for a period 3 times that of imprisonment. That is, the defaulter must be disqualified for 9 years if imprisoned for 3 years, and disqualified for 12 years if imprisoned for 4 years, and so on.

4. A candidate must be disqualified for contesting any election for 6 years if he/she intentionally submits false information in his/her affidavit that the EC asks for at the time of nomination.

5. A candidate should be disqualified for contesting elections for 6 years if he mobilises voters on the basis of caste, creed, religion and place of birth.

6. It should be mandatory for all candidates and elected representatives to disclose their assets and last 5 years’ income details and assets, and to place the income details of the same duration his/her spouse, children and parents in the public domain.

7. Law should be amended for filing of election petition in case of corrupt practices any candidate indulges in. At present, an election petition can be filed against a winner alone.

8. Responsibility and accountability of contestants in an election must be defined with clauses.

9. State Assemblies and must be functional for a minimum period of 120 days or 1,000 hours a year. A minimum 80% of attendance must be made obligatory.

10. Only one common registration of voters at the local level should be enough for all levels from a municipal ward up to parliamentary elections.

11. Every effort should be made to hold elections for the Lok Sabha, State and possibly local bodies simultaneously.

12. Constitution amendment should be effected to increase the number of seats in both the Houses of in view of the growing numbers of voters.

13. Government should make a law on Right to and Right to Recall.

14. Some minimum qualification should be necessary for MLAs and MPs.
15. Maximum age limit and Minimum health standard should be mandatory criteria for directly elected representatives: MLA / MP (Lower House).

New Delhi — Ashwini Upadhyay, the practicing at the Supreme Court who once headed the Aam Aadmi Party’s legal cell and revolted due to the alleged involvement of some of its leaders with anti-nationals, had launched the Adarsh Bharat Abhiyan (ABHA) on 9 August at the Constitution Club. Yesterday, his group, comprising many eminent citizens known for their work in different aspects of governance, held a satyagraha to press for electoral and police reforms at Rajghat.

From this new pressure group platform, ABHA convener Upadhyay urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to implement the electoral reforms the Election Commission of India had proposed in 2004. ABHA urged to implement the proposals before the coming Maharashtra and Haryana Assembly elections and close the door of Assembly and for “rapists, corrupts and criminals”.

Speaking on the occasion, former director general of police Prakash Singh requested the country’s highest executive to implement the Supreme Court directives dated 22 September 2006 on police reforms and the Model Police Act, 2006 (drafted by the Soli Sorabjee Committee), in letter and spirit by 31 December. Singh has been a prominent activist pressing for police reforms since his retirement from government service. The apex court’s directives had come forth in response to his appeal.

Film actor Amir Khan tweeted in support of ABHA Rajghat satyagraha yesterday.

The satyagrahis was addressed also by former chief justice of Calcutta High Court DS Tewatia, senior journalist NK Singh and former bureaucrat cum Abha Singh.

Another prominent face, Shazia Ilmi, ex-AAP, was supposed to participate in the demonstration, but she could not attend it due to delay in the hearing of a case in court that she is involved in. She was supposed to address the gathering.

Team ABHA started its “awareness campaign” a month ago. The speakers on the occasion said they would wait patiently for 6 months — till 20 March 2015 — for electoral and police reforms.

Upadhyay said, “ABHA will surely launch a nationwide agitation on 21 March next year at Jantar Mantar,” if the government failed to carry out the proposed reforms within the deadline set by the pressure group. He may go on fast unto death from 21 March 2015 onwards in that case.

Many prominent citizens including former Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee, former law minister Ram Jethmalani and Shanti Bhushan, Members of KTS Tulsi and Shashi Tharoor, Ramon Magsaysay awardees Kiran Bedi and MC Mehta, social activist KN Govindacharya and PV Rajagopal, actor Amir Khan and Mukesh Khanna, retired judges Markandeya Katju and DS Tewatia, former CBI directors Joginder Singh and Trinath Mishra, former JF Rebeiro and Shashi Kant, former police commissioners Ajay Raj Sharma and TR Kakkar, retired police officers Ved Marwah and Arun Bhagat etc are supporting ABHA.

The group has sent two letters signed by eminent personalities addressed to the prime minister, one demanding electoral and the other demanding police reforms. The downloadable files are attached at the end of this report.

Police reforms pressed for

1. What we have today is “rulers’ police”. It must metamorphose into “people’s police” without any further delay.

2. The executive stranglehold over the police must go. The police should have freedom to act as per the law of the land.

3. Upholding the rule of law should be the supreme objective of the police.

4. Registration of cases must improve. Latest technology should be used to register and file charge sheet. A provision of stringent clauses must apply in case of needless delay in FIR registration and charge sheet filing.

5. Police behaviour towards ordinary citizens should be marked by empathy and respect for human rights. Police must extend appropriate legal protection to everyone from weaker sections of society.

6. Investigating police shall be separated from law-and-order police.

7. Assessment of a crime situation shouldn’t be based only on statistical figures.

8. Responsibility and accountability must be clearly defined at every level with stringent clause in case of violation.

9. Police manpower, infrastructure, transport, investigation technique, communications and forensic support must improve substantially.

10. Any police officer, whether starting as a constable, sub-inspector or DSP, should be able to earn at least 3 promotions in his service career.

11. A policeman should not be on duty for more than 12 hours, which may, in due course, be brought down to 8 hours. Number of policemen & police stations should be reviewed periodically. Housing of the subordinate ranks must receive special attention.

12. Corruption- and crime-related charge sheet against public servants, people’s representatives & judicial officers must be filed within 3 months.

13. It should be mandatory for a policemen and administration staff member to disclose his/her income details, assets of the last 5 years and place income details of his/her spouse, children and parents for the same duration in the public domain.

14. A 1-year mandatory course for all policemen to teach the Indian Constitution, Fundamental Rights and Duties, IPC & CrPC, communication and presentation, police roles and responsibilities, model police code etc is being demanded.
15. Supreme Court’s directives on police reforms must be implemented without any further delay. Acts legislated by government should conform to the apex court’s directions in letter and spirit.

Our “Vox Populi” section covers developments in the fields of social media and activism.

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Surajit Dasgupta
Surajit Dasgupta
Co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sirf News Surajit Dasgupta has been a science correspondent in The Statesman, senior editor in The Pioneer, special correspondent in Money Life, the first national affairs editor of Swarajya, executive editor of Hindusthan Samachar and desk head of MyNation

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