In a bid to check candidates filing false affidavits along with their nomination papers, the EC has also proposed that it should be a ground for disqualification with enhanced punishment. "This is one of the proposals of the EC because we should also be wary of some politically motivated cases against candidates just of the eve of the elections," Sampath said.
"Those who are facing criminal charges, the Commission has made a proposal to the Law Ministry (that) at least in such of the criminal cases where the (minimum) punishment is imprisonment of five years, if a person is accused of that and if charges have been framed by the competent magistrate at least six months before the scheduled date of election, they should be disqualified from contesting elections," Chief Election Commissioner V S Sampath said.
He said the proposal of the poll panel has been referred by the Law Ministry to the Law Commission which is working on making recommendations on electoral reforms.
Sampath said a 'safeguard' has also been proposed to prevent misuse of the provision. The provision of barring persons from contesting polls will apply only in cases where charges have been framed for the alleged crime six months before the announcement of elections.
A July 12, 2013 Supreme Court judgement provides for immediate disqualification of a convicted lawmaker.
Another proposal made by the Commission is that filing of false affidavits be made an issue for disqualification with enhanced punishment.
"A person who files false affidavit should be given some punishment...I think two years or something, and it should also act as a disqualification. That will act as a deterrent," he said.
Under the present provision, candidates found guilty of concealing, failing to furnish information or providing false information in the election affidavit face six months in jail and a fine.
Asked why does the EC not favour making Model Code of Conduct violation into a legal offence, the CEC said it will lead to duplicacy of action.
He said if something has to be done in the interest of certain aspects like decriminalization, it is for everyone to feel about that. "These things have been told repeatedly...we keep working towards purity in public life," he said.
Responding to questions on whether EC would like to have more powers with regard to conduct of elections and maintaining a level playing field, he said, "for any organization to seek more powers, I don't think I would say no. Any regulatory organization having more powers will further enable the organization to discharge its functions more effectively. There is no doubt about that."
Sampath also rejected suggestions of EC 'not having teeth'. "Is not correct for the reason that we take action... we make people reply in 48 hours. If an extension is requested, we extend the time by another 48 hours. Case is disposed off in 96 hours. Have you seen this anywhere else. Does any other forum dispose off cases in 96 hours," he asked.
In response to a question of hate speeches made by political leaders during campaigning, the Chief Election Commissioner said during the recently-held assembly by-elections, it had even asked poll authorities to ensure that FIRs are lodged against such people.
In September, Election Commission had reprimanded controversial BJP MP Yogi Adityanath for 'provoking feelings of enmity' during a speech in Noida and asked the state poll officials to ensure filing of an FIR against him.
The EC's rebuke for the Hindutva hardliner for allegedly invoking 'religion' and making 'appeal on this ground to secure votes' for his party came a day after he was booked for defying a ban on election meeting in Lucknow.
In a bid to check candidates filing false affidavits along with their nomination papers, the EC has also proposed that it should be a ground for disqualification with enhanced punishment.
"This is one of the proposals of the EC because we should also be wary of some politically motivated cases against candidates just of the eve of the elections," Sampath said.