The Election Commission
will henceforth scrutinise the complaints received against candidates who furnish false information in their affidavits filed at the time of nomination, and refer the matter to relevant investigative agencies on a case-to-case basis.
As per the existing provisions, individuals are filing such complaints in the competent court under Section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951. Though complaints were also received by EC against false affidavits, the poll panel so far was not taking cognisance of such complaints.
A full meeting of EC — comprising chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and election commissioners Ashok
— on Tuesday delved into the issue of the commission taking cognisance of complaints of false affidavits “which adversely affects the rights of voters as well as impinges on the purity of electoral process”.
Stating that furnishing false information in election affidavits is a devious design to defeat the right of the voter to be informed and transparency in
, EC said it has reviewed this position and decided that “in pursuit of a level-playing field, it will take cognisance of complaints which indicate serious omission on the part of the candidate, and refer such matters to the relevant investigating authorities on a case-to-case basis,“.
A candidate, in his/her affidavit, is required to disclose his criminal antecedents; assets and liabilities; and educational qualifications. Commission had in 2013 decided that the assets and liabilities of the candidates, as filed in their affidavits, would be verified by Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
Citing the observation of the Supreme Court in People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India (2003) case, EC on Tuesday said the foundation of a healthy democracy is to have well-informed citizens-voters. “He must have necessary information so that he can intelligently decide in favour of a candidate who satisfies his criterion of being elected as an MP or MLA.”
The poll panel further stated that the voter has a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution to know about the candidates at an election.
“Commission views the erosion of this fundamental right as an affront to the democratic ideals which underpin the system of government. The Commission has today decided to robustly address this challenge to further ensure free, fair and ethical elections in the country,” said EC.