T S Krishnamurthy, who laid down the office of chief election commissioner, has said that there is a need for enacting a law that would give powers to the Election Commission to impose monetary fine on the political parties or disqualification of candidates who violate the model code of conduct.
Speaking to newsmen at his office a day before retirement, Krishnamurthy said, "No political party likes to be disciplined and they do not want to follow the model code of conduct, which was once evolved by them," he said.
Asked about the recent attack on the commission by Railway Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav and special observer for Bihar during the Lok Sabha elections, L V Saptrishi, he said, "The whole thing was unfortunate. The integrity of the commission should be maintained at all costs," he said.
Saptrishi alleged that election commissioners B B Tandon and N Gopalaswamy, had made castiest comments against the Yadav community.
Asked if the whole commission met President A P J Abdul Kalam in this respect, Krishnamurthy said he had gone along with his two colleagues to place the facts before the President.
"He listened to us carefully and said he would take whatever action is necessary," he said.
He thanked all the previous governments and the present government headed by Dr Manmohan Singh for lending support to the commission. "One thing I must say is that that no government right from the 1950's till date has ever impeded the work of the commission and the money that the commission has asked for has always been granted," he said.
According to Krishnamurthy, the high point of his career as CEC was signing a memorandum of understanding with United Nations for conducting elections in various countries.
"The UN would be outsourcing the elections to be held in various countries to India and the money spent by us would be reimbursed. Internationally, our credibility has gone up. I think we should set up an institute where we could teach people from other countries how to conduct and manage elections in free and fair manner," he said.
He praised the deputy commissioner of Bihar who had kept some politicians out of their constituencies in a bid to hold free and fair elections. "He took the action under Bihar Crime Control Act. If the intentions are good and all the officers took independent decisions with a view to hold free and fair elections it would help the commission and our prestige will go up," he explained.
He regretted that despite the best effort of the commission, criminals still manage to stay in the electoral battle.
"I have written a letter to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh giving 22 suggestions to improve our electoral system. This letter was written in July 2004. When I met Dr Singh lately he asked me to prioritise the suggestion. Keeping the criminals out of the electoral fray is just one of them. Another suggestion we have listed is that voters should have the right to give negative vote," he said.
He lashed out at the some of the newspapers, which had made some uncharitable comments on the authority of the commission. "It hurts when such comments are made without even making an attempt to verify them. Just because you have freedom to write does not mean that you are the only champions of freedom of the press," he said.