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Bar criminals from contesting elections: Quraishi

Maharashtra,Politics, Tue, 27 Mar 2012 IANS

Mumbai, March 27 (IANS) Stressing that it is important to get rid of criminals in the electoral process, Chief Election Commissioner S.Y. Quraishi Tuesday said the law must bar such a candidate from contesting.


"People ask me, why can't you debar a candidate from contesting. We cannot do that. The law must debar them," Quraishi said at a lecture organised by Moneylife Foundation and V Citizens Action Network (VCAN).


"The law says a person is innocent until proven guilty. I would like to ask, if fundamental rights are curtailed for undertrials, why not stop politicians who have criminal cases pending against them from voting and contesting in elections, which are fundamental rights," he asked.


Quraishi pointed out that some people think they can control the election commission, but it is not the case.


"Some people think they can control us (election commission), like our law minister. But I am thankful to him. He has been good to us. He made the EC famous after the controversy," he said while taking a dig at union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, referring to the standoff between the EC and Khurshid on the latter's comments on minority quota.


Quraishi also pointed out that the issue of unregulated money flow in elections is a pressing one.


"No candidate is spending white money, but black money. I don't know how state sponsorship of elections will solve the problem. The moment a minister comes to power, his target is to recover the money he spent in the election. He convinces the bureaucracy to help him, and the people have to pay for them," he said.


Speaking about the Model Code of Conduct for the election candidates, Quraishi said that punitive measures against defaulting candidates must be taken. "For example, if the punishment for giving false information was Rs.500 in 1950, it must be raised to Rs.20 lakh now," he said.


He, however, demanded transparency in financial transactions for elections and independent auditing of accounts of candidates. "We have asked the Chartered Accountants Association of India to come up with auditing standards, and I am happy to say that they have done so," he revealed.


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