IMPORTANCEOFMEDIAANDELECTIONINDEMOCRACY

IMPORTANCEOFMEDIAANDELECTIONINDEMOCRACY

1.INTRODUCTION

ThefoundingfathersofourConstitutionconceivedofParliamentarydemocracyasthe politymostsuitedtoIndia’sethos,background,andneeds.Democracyisabasic featureoftheConstitution.1Democracyismeaninglesswithoutafree,neutraland activemedia.Ingeneratingademocraticculturethatextendsbeyondthepolitical systemandbecomesengrainedinthepublicconsciousnessovertime,theroleofthe mediaisvital.Sothemediacarrieswithitaveryhugeresponsibilityinademocratic setupwhichithastofulfillverycarefullywithoutanybiastowardanyonebybringingout therealfactsbeforethepublic.2democracyincreasesthelikelihoodthatnational developmentgoalswillreflectbroadsocietalaspirationsandpriorities.

TheConstitutionthusaninstrumenttoachievethegoalofpoliticaldemocracy. Ambedkar’sviews,freeandfairelectionsaretheotherpillaronwhichParliamentary Democracyrests.Mr.Ortiquesaiddemocracyisnota’functionofasingleelectionora singledocument’:Itdependsonafreepress.3

I.PMasseysaysDemocracyassumesthatwegovernourselves.Freeexpressionis indispensabletotheunfetteredexchangeofideasnecessaryforself-governance. Democracypresumesthatthegovernmentpowerwillbewieldedbydifferenthands overtime.4AmbedkarSays”Ifourtruerepresentativesarenotelected,Independence willbeafarce.”5

ThepreambletotheConstitutionofIndiaisofgreatsignificancebecauseitisthegrand declarationoftheidealsandobjectiveswhichtheIndianpeoplehavesetbefore themselvesandhavetheambitiontorealize.ThePreambleofIndiaclearlybringstwo

1S.RBommaiv.UnionofIndiaAIR1994SC1918

2Dr.BhartiDas,ImportanceofIndependentMediainDemocracy,Scholar’sVoice:ANewWayofThinking Vol.2,No.1,January-June2011,43-49

3ActivitiesoftheIPUin2001:AnnualReportoftheSecretary-General’,107thConference,Marrakech,

March2002,41

4Massey,AmericanConstitutionalLaw,3rded,(WoltersKluwer,NewYork,)p.790

5Ambedkarspeech,Vol3,(NarendraJadhavPublication,pvt.ltd)p.17

importantpoints:Firstly,itdeclaresthatthepeoplethemselvesaretheultimatesource ofpowerinthesovereigndemocraticrepublic.TheConstitutionhasbeenframed, enactedadoptedandpromulgatedinthenameofthesovereignpeople.Secondly,the PreambleindicatesthatthedemocraticpolityinIndiashallrestonrestonthefour pillarsofJustice,libertyequalityandfraternity.Electionsconductedatregular, prescribedintervalsareanessentialpartofdemocraticsystemenvisagedbythe Constitution.

2.IMPORTANCEOFFREEANDFAIRELECTIONINDEMOCRACY

[ORGANISINGFREEANDFAIRELECTIONISMOREIMPORTANTTHANTHATTHERESULTITSELF-FATOSNANO]

2.iJusticeV.R.KrishnaIyer”freeandfairelectionsbasedontheadultfranchiseisthe basisofdemocracy”. Andverybasicinstitutionfordemocraticinstitutions andalsoan integralpartoftheIndianpoliticalandsocialsystem.Fordemocracytosurvivetherule oflawmustprevailanditisnecessarythatthebestavailablemenshouldbechosenas people’srepresentativesforpropergovernanceofthecountryandforthebestavailable mentobechosenaspeople’srepresentatives,electionsmustbefreeandfairand conductedinanatmospherewheretheelectorsareabletoexercisetheirfranchise accordingtotheirownfreewill.Thus,freeandfairelectionsformthebedrockof democracy.Thesmoothconductoftheelectionprocessistheprimaryrequirementofa healthydemocracy.ToensurethisSupremeCourtlaiddownthreecomponentsa)aset ofelectorallaw&rulesacceptedthroughthecountrybythepoliticalcommunity.b) thereshouldbeanIndependentJudiciarytointerprettheelectorallawc)honest& independentcommissiontoruntheelection.

2.a.FundamentalPrinciplesofElections

2.a.ia)Thereisonegeneralelectoralrollforeveryterritorialconstituency.Constitution abolishesseparateelectoratesandcommunalrepresentationwhichdividedtheIndian people.b)Nopersonisineligibleforinclusionintheelectoralrollonthegroundsonlyof religion,race,caste,sexoranyofthem.Equalityhasthusbeenaccordedtoeachcitizen inthematteroffranchiseandtheelectoralrollispreparedonasecularbasis. c)No personcanclaimtobeincludedinanyspecialelectoralrollforanyconstituencyonthe groundsonlyreligion,race,caste,sex,oranyofthem.

d)Theelectionisheldonthebasesofadultsuffrage.e)Noreservationofseatshas beenmadeinanycommunity,sectionorreligiousgroupoftheIndianpopulationexcept fortheSC,ST,andAnglo-Indians.

2.b.RoleofElectionCommissionofIndia

2.b.iTheroleoftheElectionCommissioninconductingthefreeandfairpollinIndiaand itsnecessity

forthesuccessofdemocracyanditshallbeanindependentagencyfreefromexternal pressuresfrom thepartyinpowerortheexecutiveoftheday.

2.b.iiArt.324,”thesuperintendence,direction,andcontrolofelectionstobevestedin anElectionCommission”.clause(1)saystheconductofelectionstoParliamentandto LegislaturepfeverystateandtotheofficeofPresidentandVice-president.Clause(2) contemplatesastatutetodefinetheconditionsofserviceoftheCECandtheECs. Clause(4)saystheappointmentofRegionalCommissioner.Clause(5)conditionand serviceoftheECandRC.Clause(6)Commissioner’spowertorequisitionstafffor pollingduties.

2.b.iiiECI’SV.AshokKumar12thecourtheldthat’superintendence,direction&control’ arewideamplitude.Itincludesallthepowersnecessaryforthesmoothandeffective conductofelectionssothatthewillofthepeoplemaybeexpressed.Thecommission shouldexerciseitspowerofcancelingapollaccordingtotheprinciplesofNatural Justice. RoopLalSathiv.NachhattarSingh14symbolsorderis”inthenatureofgeneral directionsissuedbytheElectionCommissiontoregulatethemodeofallotmentof symbolstothecontestingcandidates”

2.b.ivPowersconferredbyArt.324aresubjectedtoJudicialReview.DigvijayMotev.

U OI15a)WhereitiscontrarytotheenactedunderArt.327b)Iftheorderisarbitraryor malafideorUnfairc)ifit’swithoutorinexcessofthecommission’sjurisdictionor beingincontraventionofanyelectorallawortheRulesmadethereunderbycompetent LegislatureoranyprovisionoftheConstitutionitself.d)particulardirectionof commissionisapprovedbytheGovernment.Sothecommissioncan’tgoaheadwithout approval.

2.b.vIndiaisaconstitutionaldemocracywithaparliamentarysystemofgovernment,

andattheheartofthesystemisacommitmenttoholdregular,free&fairelections

3.IMPORTANCEOFMEDIAINELECTION

3.iThenewspaperisaneyeforacitizeninDemocracy. Afreepressisasa

parliamentaryfreelyelectedbythepeopleoranindependentjudiciary. Thepolitical scenariosofthecountrywerereflectedinthenewspaperswhichultimatelypavedthe wayforstrengtheningthedemocracy.MontesquieuthefamousFrenchpolitical philosophersaidtheabuseormisuseofpowercanbedeterredbypublicity.Media increasesthevoiceofthepublic.

3.(ii)Electionsconstituteabasicchallengetothemedia,puttingitsimpartialityand objectivitytothetest.Thetaskofthemedia,shouldnotfunctionasamouthpiecefor anygovernmentbodyoraparticularcandidate.21Candidatesandpartiesusethemass mediaforcampaigningthroughpaidpoliticaladvertising,televiseddebates,useof socialmediaandusefinancialresourcesonmediaforcampaigns. Mediahasthe responsibilityintheelectionlikegiveinformationofmanifestos,electoraldisputes&to announcetheresults. Ifthemediadoesnotdischargeitsresponsibilityindependently inanydemocraticcountry,thepoliticiansareboundtobehavelikedictatorsoreven worsethanthem.

3.iiiThecandidateaswellastheconcernedpoliticalpartyshallissueadeclarationin thewidelycirculatednewspapersinthelocalityabouttheantecedentsofthecandidate andalsogivewidepublicityintheelectronicmedia. TheTarkundeCommitteeof1976 alsomadesignificantrecommendationstocheckmisuseofofficialmediapowerand machinerybyMinistersandpoliticalpartyinpower.

3. a.PAIDNEWSANDPOLITICALADVERTISING

3.a.i.Paidnewshasbeendefinedas”anynewsoranalysisappearinginanymedia (Print&

Electronic)forapriceincashorkindasconsideration.”26Thenexusbetweenmoney and

politicaljournalismisharmingthefreeandfairelection.TheECI’sestimationofthe worthofpaid

newsmarketisRs.500Crore. In2014LokSabhaElectionsitself,around700casesof paidnewsweredetected. Candidatespayhugeamountsofmoneyinpaid-news favorableinformationtocreateafalseatmosphereforinfluencingtheelectorate. 3.a.iipaidnewsanddisguisedpoliticaladvertisementsaregrowingdeepintothe processofdemocraticelectionsinIndia.Theamountofmoneybeingspentonthese practiceshasrisenatexponentiallevels.Theunethicalpracticesofpaidnewsand disguisedpoliticaladvertisinghavereachedanalarminglevelnotjustinafewcasesof nationalmedia,butalsointheregionalmedia.

3.b.NEEDTOREFORMSINMEDIA

3.b.iMediaissuchausefulorratheranindispensableinstrumentforinformationand exchangeofviewsandopinionsinademocracy. Mediadevelopmentrequiresan integratedapproach&itaffectsprofessionaldevelopment,economicsustainability, legal-enablingenvironment,andmedialiteracy. TheVohraCommitteereportpointedto therapidgrowthofcriminalnetworksthathad,inturn,developedanelaboratesystem ofcontactwithbureaucrats,politiciansandmediapersons.

3.b.iiReformofRPA,Act1951

Thedefinitionof”payingfornews”,”receivingpaymentfornews”and”political advertisement”shouldbeinsertedinsection2oftheRPAandelectoraloffenseof “payingfornews”/”receivingpaymentfornews”inanewlyinsertedsection127Bofthe

RPA

LawCommission255threportrecommendedexpandingthescopeofsec126(b)ofthe RPA,1951thatPublish,publicizeordisseminateanyelectionmatterbymeansofprint orelectronicmedia.

3.b.iiipre-certificationofpoliticaladvertisement=TheSupremeCourt,inMinistryof Broadcastingv.GeminiTVPvt.Ltd.35passedanOrderstatingallthepolitical advertisementsproposedtobeissuedonTVChannelsandCableNetworksbyany registeredpoliticalparty/individualcandidateshallbepre-certifiedbythedesignated certificationcommitteeatvariouslevelstobeconstitutedbytheECI.

3.vArt.19(1)(a)includestherighttoacquireanddisseminateinformationincludesthe righttocommunicatethroughmedia,print,electronicvisual. It’snecessaryfora successfuldemocracy.

4.IMPORTANCEOFPOLITICALPARTIES

4.iPoliticalpartiesareacentralinstitutionofourdemocracy;”thelifebloodoftheentire constitutionalscheme.”37 Characterandcontentofthe’ParliamentaryDemocracy’ dependuponthequalityofpersonswhomanthelegislatureasrepresentativesofthe people. Thepoliticalpartiesareaninherentpartofademocraticpolityinoursystem andelectoralreformscanbeeffectivewithoutreformsinthepoliticalpartysystem. It hasbeenheldthatpoliticalpartywhichdoesnotrespectdemocraticprinciplesinits internalworkingcannotbeexpectedtorespectthoseprinciplesinthegovernanceof thecountry.

4.aPromotetoInternalDemocracy

4.a.iOurfoundingfathersoftheConstitutionfailedtomakesuitableprovisionsinthe Constitutiontoensurepublicaccountability,transparencyandinternaldemocracyinthe workingofpoliticalparties. It’snecessarytointroducetheinternaldemocracyand functioningofpoliticalpartiestoachievetheConstitutionalgoals.

4.a.iiItisessentialthattheconductofpoliticalpartiesshouldberegulatedinthis matterbystrictprinciplesinrelationtoelectioneering. Noconceptinpoliticaltheory continuestohaveanambiguouscharacterincivilsociety.45Itrequirescarefullegal insightintothefunctioningofthepoliticalpartiesandregulatingtheinternalaffairsof parties. Itiswidelybelievedthatthereisagrowingnexusbetweenthepolitical parties. Itisnecessarytoinsertregulatingsomeoftheinternalaffairsofthepolitical partiesinordertodealwithcrime-politicalnexus andimproveandrefinepolitical partiesprocessofelection.

4.bSignificanceofInternalDemocracy

4.b.iAdemocracyneedsstrongandsustainablepoliticalparties,thathavethefeatures ofinternaldemocracytoreducetheincreasingdisconnectbetweenthecitizensand parties.thoughourConstitutiondoesnotprovidefortheConstitution&workingof politicalparties,introducinginternaldemocracy&transparencyisimportanttopromote financial&electoralaccountability,reducingcorruption&improvethedemocratic functioningofthecountry.

4.b.iiMoreover,Section6and7oftheSpainConstitutionstipulatestheinternal structureandfunctioningofpoliticalpartiesmustdemocratic.Electionstogoverning bodiesshouldbysecretballotandallelectedleadersshouldbedemocratically controlled.Article51ofthePortugalConstitutionregulatesthefunctioningofthe partiesbyprohibitingregionalobjectivesandinternaldemocracy. .Ithastobe consideredadoptingtheleadershipconventionsystem,asitispracticedincountries likeCanada,andtheUSA.

4.b.iii255thLawCommissionReporthasdealtwiththisissueingreatdetail&

transparencywithinthepartiesisimportanttoensureelectoral,financial,accountability. It’ssubmittedthatthesamecanbeachievedbyextendingthepowersontheECIto regulatetheaction&nottheideologyofpoliticalparties.

4.c.ThevisionofPoliticalfairnessholdsthatminoritygroupsshouldberepresentedby ameaningfulnumberofrepresentativesoftheirchoice,evenifthenumberfallsshortof proportionalrepresentation.53IndianDemocracyandpoliticsareintertwinedand complex.ElectionsProvideawindowintotheprocessandthebasisforimportant politicaljudgments.54

5.EXISTINGLEGALFRAMEWORK

5.iQualificationofmembersofParliamentunderArt.84oftheConstitution, disqualificationisunderArt.102correspondingprovisionsformembersofstate legislativeassembliesarefoundunderArt.173&191oftheConstitution.

5.iiParliamentenactedtheRepresentationofPeopleAct,1951,prescribingfurther qualifications&disqualificationsSec.8(1)enumeratesanumberofoffenses,the convictionunderwhichdisqualificationthecandidateirrespectivequantumofsentence orfine.

5.iiiOtherlawsoffensesundertheForeignExchangeRegulationAct,1973,TheNarcotic Drugs&PsychotropicSubstanceAct,1988,ThePreventionofCorruptionAct,1988. ConductofElectionsRules,1961sayscandidatetoelectionisrequiredtofurnishan affidavitdisclosinginformationregardinghisassets,liabilities,educational qualificationsandcriminalconvictions.

5.aJudicialEfforts-Peopleunionofcivillibertiesv.UOI55SupremeCourtstruckdown Sec.33BofRPAAct,whichpracticallylimitedtheoperationoftheSupremeCourtearlier judgment.InAssociationfordemocraticreformsv.UOI56theeffectofthesaid amendmentwasthatthecandidateswerepracticallynotrequiredtodisclosetheir assets&liabilities,educationalqualifications&thecasesinwhichtheyhadbeen acquittedordischargedofcriminaloffenses.TheSupremecourtheldthatthisviolated theelector’srighttoknow,thusobstructingtheirrightofmakinganinformedchoice.

6.ELECTORALREFORMS

53JeferryRosen,TheMostDemocraticBranch,(OxfordUniversityPress,NewYork,2006)atp134

54PaulWallace,INDIA’S2009ELECTIONS,(SAGEPublication,NewDelhi,2011)

552003SCC549

56(2002)5SCC249

6.aDecriminalizationofPolitics-ELECTIONS&THEIRCORRUPTION,INJUSTICE&TYRANNYOFWEALTH&

INEFFICIENCYOFADMINISTRATIONWILLMAKEAHELLOFLIFEASSOONASFREEDOMISGIVENTOUS-C.RAJGOPALACHARI 6.a.i.PoliticsinIndiahasbecomeaplaygroundforcriminals.criminalizationofpolitics isthebaneofsocietyandthenegationofdemocracy. Criminalgangs,Mafias, smugglers,drugpeddlers,economiclobbiesinthecountrydevelopedanextensive networkwiththepoliticiansandmediapersonsespeciallyinBihar,Haryana,U.P.gang leaderscontrollingthegovernmentfunctionsbybecomingpoliticalleaders.For example,Bombayblastcase&communalriotsinSurat&Ahmedabadhave demonstratedIndianpoliticianshaveanextensivelinkwithPakISI. Sothecommittee recommendedintroducinginstitutionalmechanism andintra-politicaldemocracy. Ourpoliticalsystemstillisnotperfectandthereisalwaysthescopeformany legislativereformstobemade.

6.a.iiEverycandidate,contestinganelectiontotheParliament,StateLegislaturesor MunicipalCorporation,hastodeclaretheircriminalrecords,financialrecordsand educationalqualificationsalongwiththeirnominationpaper. theCourtheldthat Section8(4)ofTheRepresentationofthePeopleAct,1951isunconstitutionalwhich allowsMPsandMLAswhoareconvictedtocontinueinofficetillanappealagainst suchconvictionisdisposedof.

6.b.SimultaneousElections

6.b.iTheterm’simultaneouselection’impliesthattheelectiontoalltiresof Constitutionalinstitutionstakesplaceinasynchronized&co-ordinatefashion.Iteffects voterwillcasthisvoteinasingleday.Suggestionsarebeingmadeaschemeshouldbe madedevisedthegeneralelectionstothehouseofthepeopleandstateassembliesare heldsimultaneously.

6.b.iiNeedforsimultaneouselection=simultaneouselectionswouldhelpa)inkeeping aliveoftheenthusiasmofthevoters.b)itwouldreducethemassiveexpenditurethat hasbeenpeggedataroundRs.4,500crores.c)avoidingrepeatedenforcementofMCC whichaffectsadministration.d)itimpactsondevelopmentprograms&governancee) promotemassiveexpenditurebygovernment&stakeholders.f)reducetheburdenon administrativesetup&securityforces g)reducingpartyelectionsexpenses,willnotbe temptedtoseekillegalsourcesoffundingelections

6.b.iii170thReporthassuggestedsimultaneouselectiontoLokSabha&State Legislatureassembliesforthesakeofstabilityingovernance.

6.c.OtherReforms

6.c.i1)AppointmentoftheChiefElectionCommissionerandtheothertwoElection

Commissioners,2)Delimitation ofthe constituencies,3)IdentityCards for Voters,4)Non-SeriousandDummyCandidatesshouldbediscouraged,5)Ceiling onElectionExpenses,6)Abye-electionshouldbeheldwithinthreemonthsofthe occurrenceofthevacancy,7)Clearrulesandregulationsbeframedforthe democraticfunctioningofthepoliticalpartiesandtheElectionCommissionmay beempoweredtomonitortheapplicationoftheserules.8)De-registrationof politicalparties,9)Taxreliefforpoliticalparties,10)compulsorymaintainsof accounts by politicalparties,10)Prohibition ofanonymous donation, 11)Accountingandauditingofpoliticalparties,12)Maintenanceofseparatebank accounts

Byeachcontestingcandidateforfullpollexpenses.13)limitthenumberofstar campaigners.

7.CONCLUSION

“Ifitwereleftonmetodecidewhetherweshouldhaveagovernmentwithout newspapersornewspaperswithoutagovernment,Ishouldnothesitateamovementto prefertheletter.”-ThomasJefferson

Thesuccessofdemocracydependsuponthefreeandfairpoll.Itrequiresmenof strongcharacter,menofvision,menwhowillnotsacrificetheinterestsofthecountry atlargeforthesakeofsmallergroupsandareas.Wecanonlyhopethatthecountrywill throwupsuchmeninabundance.

BRAmbedkarhadobservedduringtheConstituentAssemblydebatesin1949.Hesaid thatpoliticaldemocracywouldnotlastwithoutsocialdemocracyandthatuntilthe contradictionsbetweenequalityinpoliticallifeandinequalityinsocialliferemained unresolved,theprospectofdemocracywouldremainvulnerable.67

Informationisregardedastheoxygenofdemocracy.Infact,massmediaisthemost importantvehicleforinformation,knowledge,communicationandfree,fairandfearless mediaisafunctionalnecessityofademocraticpolity.

ForIndia,totrulybecomea”SOVEREIGN,SOCIALIST,SECULAR,DEMOCRATIC, REPUBLIC”,itisimperativethatitspoliticalmasterusherinaneraofpoliticalreforms. Electoralreformsareadynamic&continuousprocessandwecan’taffordtoignore themtoenhanceFree&Fairelectionswhicharethemainspringsofahealthy democraticlife.

Itisthepeoplewhoshouldrealizeandworkwiththehelpoflawsforthesuccessofthe systemsothat”Indiacouldcontinuetobeanoasisofdemocracy”68.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

1.Ambedkarspeech,Vol3,(NarendraJadhavPublication,pvt.ltd)

2.ChoudryR.N,ElectionLawsandPracticeinIndia(3rdEdn.,Orient,NewDelhi,2009)

3.DasBasuDurga,LAWOFTHEPRESS,(5thEdn,Butterworths,Nagpur,2010)

4.DASBASUDURGA,SHORTERCONSTITUTIONOFINDIA,(14thEdn.,Vol-2,Lexis Nexis,Haryana,2015)

5.JAINMP,INDIANCONSTITUTIONLAW,(8thEdn.,LexisNexis,Haryana,2018)

6.JethmalaniRam,MediaLaw,(2ndEdn.,vol-1,ThomsonReuters,2014)

7.Massey,AmericanConstitutionalLaw,3rded,(WoltersKluwer,NewYork,)

8.RamaDeviVS&MendirattaSK,HowIndiaVotesElectionLaws,Practiceand Procedure,4thed,(LexisNexis,Haryana,2017)

9.RosenJeffery,TheMostDemocraticBranch,(OxfordUniversityPress,NewYork, 2006)

10.WallacePaul,INDIA’S2009ELECTIONS,(SAGEPublication,NewDelhi,2011)

11.WrhodesR.ATheOxfordHandbookofPoliticalInstitutions,(OxfordUniversityPress,NewDelhi,

2006)p.131 WEBSITES:

COMMITTEEREPORTS

1.Chapter4,Vol.I,’NationalCommissiontoReviewtheWorkingoftheIndian Constitution’ataccessed February4,2014.

2.JusticeB.SChauhan,LawCommissionReport30/08/2018

3.MinistryofLawandJustice,170thLawCommissionReport(1999).

4.MinistryofLawandJustice,255thLawCommissionReport.

5.Minutesofmeetingsofthecommission.

6.PressCouncilofIndia,”PaidNews”:HowCorruptionInTheIndianMedia UnderminesDemocracy,

7.Shri.N.N Vohra,VOHRACOMMITTEEREPORTMINISTRYOFHOME

AFFAIRS,1995

8.TarkundeCommittee,ReportoftheCommitteeonElectionExpensesCitizensfor Democracy,NewDelhi(1978)

9.ThegovernmentofIndia,LawCommissionofIndia,Electoral Disqualification.,ReportNo.244February2014

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