Deputy Election Commissioner Current Affairs - 2019

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Former Chief Election Commissioner TN Seshan passed away

Tirunellai Narayana Iyer Seshan, the man behind several electoral reforms passed away due to a cardiac arrest. He was 87 years old and was not well for the past couple of years. He was the 10th Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). He served between 1990 and 1996

About TN Seshan

TN Seshan was a 1955 batch retired IAS officer of Tamil Nadu cadre. He was born in Palakkad district of Kerala. Before becoming a CEC, he served around 18 cabinet secretaries. He has also won the Ramon Magsaysay Award for his services in 1986. The award is considered as Asia’s Nobel Prize.

In 1997, he unsuccessfully contested the Presidential Elections against KR Narayanan.

Electoral Reforms by Seshan

  • Mr Seshan is credited for introducing Election Commission’s constitutional powers that keep the politicians under check
  • During his tenure the two additional Election Commissioners were appointed by the centre.
  • It was during his period as the CEC the following were made offensive
    • Bribing voters
    • Distributing alcohol during elections
    • Approaching voters to appeal on caste or community basis
    • Using official machinery for campaigning
    • Using worship places for campaigning
    • Use of loud speakers and high-volume music
  • The following laws were implemented during his period
    • Implementation of strict Code of Conduct
    • A limit was imposed on the election expenditure of the candidate
    • Issuance of voter IDs

Recommendations of Committee to revisit the Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act

The Committee headed Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha has submitted the report on revisiting the section 126 of the Representation of the People Act. The committee had nine officers from the Election Commission and one nominated member each from I&B Ministry, Law Ministry, IT Ministry, National Broadcasters Association and Press Council of India.

Recommendations of the Committee

The committee has made the following recommendations:

  • Amendment to the Model Code of Conduct to ensure that political parties release their manifesto at least 72 hours before voting ends in the first phase of polls.
  • The provision of election silence, which prohibits any form of poll campaign in the last 48 hours leading up to voting to be extended to cover print and social media, internet, cable channels and online version of print media.
  • Social media platforms should work with the EC to evolve a mechanism by which the latter can flag content violating electoral law and social media sites can take it down as soon as possible.
  • EC should issue directions to private cable TV channels to follow NBSA guidelines for election broadcasts during the poll period.

The recommendations when implemented will help in minimizing the possible interference of activities which aim at indirectly influencing voters during the valuable silence period of 48 hours provided to them.

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act

Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act Prohibits public meetings during period of forty-eight hours ending with hour fixed for conclusion of the poll.