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The one lesson India must learn from Pakistan on electoral reforms

  • Mrinalini Singh
  • July 29, 2017
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The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office and barring him from electoral politics for five years. The investigation into the Panama papers concluded that his assets exceeded his known sources of income. His disqualification immediately opens up a succession issue within his own party but, more importantly, potentially signals a period of sustained political uncertainty among democratic forces in that country.

The same ruling has also affected his two sons, son-in-law and daughter — the latter who was seen as a potential heir to the leadership of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) — and left a gaping hole in Pakistan’s polity. National elections are due by the middle of next year so the party must decide on a replacement in a relatively short period of time.

In India, any leader would have got away with a soft punishment had he or she made a false declaration in the affidavit. In India, there is no clear provision that attracts disqualification of a candidate who files false information in his or her affidavit. The Supreme Court of India had in 2013 observed that those who conceal information in their nomination papers should be barred from contesting elections. The EC, however, has no powers to reject such nominations.

In the Indian law, there is no provision to bar a candidate from contesting an election who has been convicted of filing a false affidavit. Under Section 8 (3), a candidate filing a false affidavit will be sentenced to six months in jail if found guilty. The law says that the person is barred from contesting an election only during the jail term.

 

The Supreme Court of Pakistan disqualified Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif from holding public office and barring him from electoral politics for five years. The investigation into the Panama papers concluded that his assets exceeded his known sources of income. His disqualification immediately opens up a succession issue within his own party but, more importantly, potentially signals a period of sustained political uncertainty among democratic forces in that country. The same ruling has also affected his two sons, son-in-law and daughter — the latter who was seen as a potential heir to the leadership of his party, the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz) — and left a gaping hole in Pakistan’s polity. National elections are due by the middle of next year so the party must decide on a replacement in a relatively short period of time. In India, any leader would have got away with a soft punishment had he or she made a false declaration in the affidavit. In India, there is no clear provision that attracts disqualification of a candidate who files false information in his or her affidavit. The Supreme Court of India had in 2013 observed that those who conceal information in their nomination papers should be barred from contesting elections. The EC, however, has no powers to reject such nominations. In the Indian law, there is no provision to bar a candidate from contesting an election who has been convicted of filing a false affidavit. Under Section 8 (3), a candidate filing a false affidavit will be sentenced to six months in jail if found guilty. The law says that the person is barred from contesting an election only during the jail term.  

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