RIGHT TO REJECT/RECALL INDIA
In India, it was the late Jayaprakash Narayan, who had first given a call for the right to recall the elected representatives on 4th November, 1974, during his Sampoorna Kranti (Total Revolution) Movement against the Congress Government headed by Indira Gandhi at the Centre followed by the Janata Government in 1977, and again during the National Front Government in 1989. The right to recall, the elected representative has remained national. The process of formulation any legislation on the subject has been derailed by the political parties. It is well established fact that political leaders are reluctant to enact any legislation, which depicts that they are hesitant to maturing into participatory democracy.
In State of Madhya Pradesh and Mrs. V Shri Ram Singh, Hon’ble Supreme Court observed that, “Corruption is like cancer in a civilized society, which if not detected in time, is sure to malignise the polity of the country leading to disastrous consequences. It is termed as a plague, which is not only contagious but if not controlled spreads like a fire in a jungle. Its virus is compared with HIV leading to AIDS, being incurable. It has also been termed as royal thievery. The socio-political system exposed to such a dreaded communicable disease is likely to crumble under its own weight. Corruption is opposed to democracy and social order, being not only anti-people, but also aimed and targeted at them. It affects the economy and destroys the cultural heritage. Unless nipped in the bud at the earliest, it is likely to cause turbulence shaking of the socio-economic political system in an otherwise healthy, wealthy, effective and vibrating society”
There are several examples, from a panch to the Prime Minister are found guilty of corruption. Thousands crores is alleged to have looted by the politicians in power. It is in the interest of the nation to remove those incompetent, inefficient and dishonest legislators, who once elected by hook or by crook, continue to bleed the state exchequer for the fixed term. Current conditions in India, where even the peasantry is articulating need for new mechanisms for empowerment demands to have laws enshrining the right to recall must be viewed as important ingredients of the fight for renewal of the polity.
Social activist Anna Hazare also declared his next line of action campaign for electoral reforms and people’s participation in allocation of land resources, considered key to fight corruption. Hazare said that electoral reforms are need of the hour to weed out corruption. “We have to reform electoral system. W need ‘right to reject’ and ‘right to recall’,” Hazare said.
He outlined, what it meant, when he said that right to recall would be for those elected and right to reject will be a column in a ballot paper, which would ensure that the voter has a right to say that he does not like any of the listed candidates.
Right to recall is applicable in some states such as Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh in case of elected representatives in the Panchayats Raj bodies, but is not applicable in case of MP’s and MLA’s. Although, the Election Commission of India provide a register, where a voter can lodge his or her dislike for listed candidates but having a Right to Reject would mean declaring an election void, if more than half of the votes polled are in the category none of the above.
“If the majority in a constituency says that they reject a candidate, even then the election should be cancelled. How much money they (candidates) will distribute? Once the candidate spends Rs.10 crore for one election and if the election is cancelled, then right sense will dawn upon them,” Hazare said.
Amid a campaign by Team Anna for poll reforms, the Election Commission has disfavoured any proposal to include the ‘Right to Reject’ or ‘Right to Recall’ clauses in election rules, saying they may not work in a large country like India.
Opposing the proposal to have a ‘Right to Recall’ as in many developed countries, Chief Election Commission (CEC) S Y Quraishi has held that it will “destabilize” -the country, especially in areas where “people already feel alienated”. On the proposal of introducing a clause on Right to Reject, Quraishi said even though the EC has supported introduction of 49-0 (rule) button in EVMs for voters to express their displeasure over candidates, the proposal will lead to more frequent elections.
49-0 rule of the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961 describes the procedure to be followed, when a valid voter decides not to cast his vote, and decides to record this fact.
“Our main fear is that, if we start rejecting all the candidates, we will have another election and people already complain of election fatigue,” Quraishi told Karan Thapar in Devil’s advocate programme aired on CNN-IBN. The CEC, is however, open to discussion with activist Anna Hazare who has suggested that if all candidates spending crores in elections are rejected by the voters, it will discourage them from overspending and would control election expenditure.
In conclusion, we can understand that it’s a difficult proposal and impracticable also, but keeping in view the role of money and muscle power being played in winning the election, the right to reject and right to recall is a befitting solution.