The Times of India

RANCHI: Ahead of the coming general elections, the annual conference of Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), being convened in Ranchi from Saturday, assumes reater significance.

The 10th annual conference aims at introducing relevant electoral and political reforms ahead of the elections so that the Election Commission of India and members of the law commission are able to consider the issues highlighted at the conference.

NEW national trustee, Jagdeep Chhokar said, for all practical purposes even the Election Commission does not enjoy adequate powers to bring about change. It can only implement already existing legal provisions. "Political parties are supposed to register themselves with the commission under relevant sections of Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951, and their party bylaws, but if they violate their own rules, the commission has no right to de-register the party," he said.

EC commissioner H N Brahma will inaugurate the conference. Legal luminaries from the central law commission and representatives of political parties are expected to attend the event. Discussions will be held to make voters aware of the nature of candidates being fielded and their responsibility in choosing the right person.

Another NEW trustee, Trilochan Shashtri said, though an effort was being made to cleanse the electoral and political system, a major impediment came in the form of objections by lawmakers. Asked if they had een able to influence the government or commission to take any reformative step, the members said introduction of NOTA (None Of The Above) button in EVMs was a result of the struggle of PUCL, one of their partner groups, which had petitioned the apex court over the matter.

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