‘Performance of MPs, MLAs must be audited’
Calling for sweeping electoral reforms where voting is made compulsory and people are given the right to recall elected representatives, former Supreme Court Judge and former Lokayukta of Karnataka, Santosh Hegde, on Tuesday proposed that a performance audit of MPs and MLAs be conducted to enable people to judge their work.
Interacting with an audience after delivering the Rajaji Memorial Lecture organised by the Triplicane Cultural Academy, Justice Hegde said the country was in dire need of a total change in the electoral laws. He said it was necessary that the money power of candidates be curbed for fair elections.
“One way to do this could be that the Election Commission itself funds the expenses of the candidates, fixed at a certain level, through a corpus that could be created for this purpose,” he said.
The right to recall and making voting compulsory were important factors, he said. “In 2007, Rajya Sabha passed 32 percent of the Bills without any discussion. This is an increase from 26 per cent in 2005,” he pointed out, adding that any litigation connected to elections should be dealt with in a strict time frame, preferably in six months.
Speaking on the judiciary during the lecture, he said the system of regional and communal representation in the appointment of judges must be totally abandoned.
“Merit and integrity alone should be the criteria for selection of judges. But...this is not what is happening today,” he opined, adding that there should be an open debate on what should be the method of change in the selection process.
Hegde said the relationship between the political bureaucracy and executive bureaucracy has become somewhat similar to master and servant relationship. “The Cabinet, misusing the power conferred in the conduct of the government, usurped many powers solely vested with the executive and started controlling the executive,” he said, adding that as a consequence, decisions taken by the Government were tainted with political colours.
Former Chief Election Commisisoner, T S Krishnamurthy, said the time has come to change the existing first-past-the-post electoral system which has led to a proliferation of political parties taking advantage of caste and sectarian issues for votes.