Sr Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay writes to CJI on urgent hearing of Election Reform related PIL

NEW DELHI: Ashwini Upadhyay, known as PIL man, who files over hundreds of Public Interest Litigation (PILs) in High courts and Supreme Court.

In the light of recent post poll violence in West Bengal, it becomes necessary to have a complete reform in the electoral to ensure free and fair elections and secure right to life, liberty and dignity but also essential to weed out the menaces of corruption, crime, casteism, communalism, linguism, regionalism and nepotism.

In his latest plea, Upadhyay urges CJI N.V. Ramana on the election reforms pending for a long time, despite several orders and committee’s recommendations in the past, none of the government could be able to implement those suggestions. Therefore, he is urging the top court to intervene into this matter relating to the public interests.

Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay writes further in his plea that “criminalization of politics is increasing with every passing day and we witnessed it prior and after the recent Assembly elections. In fact, the Rule of Law guaranteed under Article 14 and Right to Life, Liberty and Dignity guaranteed under 21 have become a dead letter in Bengal”. It’s very unfortunate that residents were forced to take shelter in neighboring States and the root causes of this is outdated ineffective Election Laws and Rules, it added.

Citing the several commission’s report he states in his petition, “A host of reports including the ECI’s Proposed Electoral Reforms (2004), Law Commission’s 170th and 244th Reports (1999 and 2014), the NCRWC’s Proposals (2002), the Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2009), Vohra Committee (1993) and ECI’s Proposed Electoral Reforms (2016) have drawn attention to the severity of the problem and have suggested electoral reforms to stem the tide of criminals flowing into our polity”.

In the petition, he informs the court with 10 points for reform in the electoral process in the country, which are as under- WP(C) 699/2016 seeks direction to set up a Special MLA-MP Court in every district to decide the cases relating to legislators within one year and to impose a life-time ban on convicted persons from contesting election.

WP(C) 927/2017 seeks direction to use Totalizer for counting votes of 20 EVMs together to hide the voting pattern and avoid post poll intimidation.

WP(C) 967/2017 seeks ban on contesting election from two seats simultaneously and to use Common Elector Roll.

WP(C)1043/2017 seeks independent budget and rulemaking power for ECI and appointment of Election Commissioners by a Collegium of PM, CJI, LoP.

WP(C)1152/2017 seeks ban on convicted persons from forming a political party and becoming a political office bearer.

WP(C)329/2019 seeks consecutive sentences to the criminals convicted for having black money, benami properties and disproportionate assets.

WP(C)408/2019 seeks declaration that recognized political parties are public authorities. Hence, they come under the ambit of RTI.

WP(C)225/2020 seeks ban on contesting if charges have been framed by the Court in serious offences.

WP(C)1232/2020 seeks direction to replace political party symbol with candidate’s photograph on the EVM.

WP(C)1334/2020 seeks direction to the ECI to hold fresh elections if NOTA gets maximum votes.

In his appealing notes before the Chief Justice of India, Advocate Upadhyay states that “ the Supreme Court has successfully acted as a ‘temple of justice’ for every citizen of this country for several decades. And, in its journey, has assumed numerous roles, including the custodian of the Indian Constitution, guardian of human rights and fundamental rights and defender of democracy and rule of law”.

It has kept pace with the developments of society and has never wavered in upholding constitutional values. Therefore, requesting to constitute a Special Bench to decide the above stated PILs and other election related matters expeditiously. I also request you to direct the High Courts to set up Special Benches to decide election petitions and election related PILs expeditiously, the PIL argues.