In a landmark judgement on Friday in response to a petition filed by some political parties, the Supreme Court ordered a number of revolutionary steps that will have a far reaching impact on making the electoral process free, fair and affordable. In line with its stated objective of letting a common man contest the polls, the verdict has banned lavish spending on entertaining voters with free meals, private transport to lure them to polling booths, use of loudspeakers, holding of processions, etc. A candidate would have to have a separate account for election purposes; ECP authorities would have to be informed about the money deposited before the election with details of expenditure recorded in bank transactions immediately after the polling. Deploying the federal government officials including the armed forces instead of provincial government staff will minimise the chances of rigging. Setting up polling stations well within the local settlements will increase the voter turnout. It is a matter of great delight that the court has also ordered the ECP to ensure that the voters’ lists are correct even if it requires door-to-door confirmation. And to complete the electoral rolls, it can enlist support of the army. ECP would keep an eye on the candidate’s activities and disqualify those violating the rules.

If implemented in letter and in spirit this should give sleepless nights to the feudal lords, and all those errant candidates who rely on their money and power to make it to assemblies. The onus is on the ECP to exercise its powers and let the people elect the representatives of their choice.