Wednesday, December 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Bill on candidates’ assets cleared

New Delhi, December 17
Parliament today approved the Representation of the People (Amendment) Bill, 2002, stipulating as part of poll reforms that a candidate after election should declare his or her assets to the presiding officer of the House.

The Bill, which was cleared by the Rajya Sabha yesterday and got the Lok Sabha endorsement today, ensures that the presiding officer will not be able to reject the nomination papers on some technical grounds. He can now reject the nomination papers only if a candidate does not deposit money.

And finally a candidate will be required for the information of the voters to disclose whether he is accused of any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more in a pending case in which charges have been framed and whether he has been convicted of an offence in which the punishment has been awarded for one or more than one year.

Replying to the debate, Minister of State for Law and Justice Ravi Shankar Prasad said the Bill was brought after a broad consensus was arrived at in two rounds of discussion with all political parties.

He said the government while doing so had not included any of the internal security laws like the MISA, TADA and many more. He said the charge sheet was always made in front of persons, so it had been kept in the provision of the bill.

Mr Prasad also informed the members that the provision of some educational qualification for the candidates had not been included as the founding fathers of the Constitution were opposed to the idea.

The minister said the government had brought this Bill as a comprehensive one and would endeavour to further improve upon this Act.

The government, he said, was also keen on finding some solution to the funding of the elections and in that connection had already submitted a Bill on corporate funding with tax exemption which was pending with the Rajya Sabha and another Bill on the open voting in the Rajya Sabha was again pending with the Rajya Sabha.

The House negated all resolutions moved by Mr Ramji Lal Suman (SP), Mr G.M. Banatwala (ML), Mr Ajay Chakraborty (CPI), Mr P.R. Dasmunshi and Mr Shivraj Patil (both Congress).

The Congress opposed the Bill saying the declaration about the assets and criminal background of a candidate should be made at the time of filing nomination to ensure transparency before the electorate.

Initiating a debate on the Bill, Mr P.R. Dasmunshi opposed the legislation saying it required disclosure of details about a candidate after his or her election only and not earlier.


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