‘Democracy and compulsion don’t go together,’ Quraishi said at a press conference called to release consultation papers on electoral reforms.
Quraishi said that educating people was a better option than making voting compulsory for bringing people to the polling booth.
The just-concluded Bihar assembly elections witnessed an increase in the voter turnout by 16 percent, he said, citing it as an example of voter education.
Among other issues, the consultation papers dwell on the subject of criminalisation of politics, role of money power, state funding of political parties during elections, adjudication of election petitions and review of the anti-defection law.
Referring to the consultation papers, Law Minister M. Veerappa Moily said that in the last six decades, there were piecemeal attempts to reform the electoral system.
Admitting that there was no unanimity over the reforms, he said that political consensus on the issue could only be arrived at by building public opinion.
‘Strong public opinion will force the political parties to change their stand,’ Moily said.
Quraishi said that the entire world was baffled by the way elections were held in India and results declared within 12 hours from the commencement of the counting.
But at the same time, we had to hang our heads in shame when asked about the presence of criminals in our legislatures, he said
Quraishi regretted that all the political parties in unison rejected the Election Commission’s proposal not to give tickets to criminals accused of heinous crimes.
The law ministry is holding seven regional conferences on electoral reforms starting with Bhopal Dec 12, 2010. The other conferences will be held in Kolkata, Bangalore, Guwahati, Mumbai, Lucknow and Chandigarh.
The regional conferences will culminate in a national consultation conference in New Delhi April 2-3, 2011.
A core committee of nine eminent lawyers and other experts has been set up to act as a nodal agency for comprehensive electoral reforms. Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha is the committee chairman.