Congress member of Parliament (MP) Manish Tewari on Saturday introduced a bill in the Lok Sabha seeking to equip the Election Commission of India (ECI) with the ability to regulate, monitor and superintend the internal functioning of all registered political parties in the country.
“There remains a very serious infirmity in the functioning of India’s democratic model, and that is the functioning of political parties that underpin our democratic edifice. The internal functioning and structures of an overwhelming number of these political parties are very opaque and ossified. There is a need to make their functioning transparent, accountable and rule-based,” Tewari said.
In September, the senior Congress leader who was a part of the ‘G-23’ group of dissenters, exited from the contest for the party president’s post.
Termed the Constitution (Amendment) Act, 2022, Tewari has described the bill as “the second wave of Democratic Reforms that India requires”. Failing to adhere to the directions with regard to the internal functioning of political parties, the bill would empower ECI to withdraw recognition as national or state parties and to take such appropriate action under Section 16-A of the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment Order) 1968.
The Congress MP introduced the Bill to amend the Constitution in the backdrop of his comments on the war of words in the Lok Sabha over the appointment of judges to the Supreme Court. Calling for “peaceful relations” between the Executive and the Judiciary, the Congress MP gave an adjournment motion notice in the Lok Sabha to discuss matters related to statements made over the judicial appointment issues.
In his bill, Tewari also talked about the “growing concern” with regard to the independence and autonomy of the Election Commission, stating that there is a need to appoint Chief Election Commissioner and other Election Commissioners through a panel comprising the Prime Minister and the leader of the Opposition.
“To maintain the impartiality and integrity of the Commission, it has become imperative that the Chief Election Commissioner and such other Election Commissioners as are deemed necessary be appointed by a panel consisting of the Prime Minister of India, Union Home Minister, Leader of Opposition or Floor Leader in Lok Sabha, Leader of Opposition or Floor Leader in Rajya Sabha and Chief Justice of India and two senior-most puisne judges of the Supreme Court of India,” the bill said.
Seeking further reforms in the Election Commission, Tewari has appealed for a fixed term of six years for the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners and a fixed term of three years for the Regional Commissioners following their appointments. Following their retirement, the bill seeks to consider these members of the Election Commission to not be eligible for any reappointment to any governmental or judicial office.