Giving wrong information may soon be a ground for disqualification of a person from contesting elections.
The Election Commission of India has sought powers from the government to disqualify persons who provide false information in their affidavits on criminal record and assets at the timing of filing nomination papers.
Under Representation of People’s Act, the election commission does not have the power to disqualify a candidate. At the most, it can ask the police to register a case against the person who has provided wrong information.
The law provides for a maximum jail of six months or fine for filing wrong information. An elected representative can be disqualified from contesting if convicted for crimes with a minimum punishment of two years in a prison.
The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), whose petition in the Supreme Court resulted in the EC making the filing of affidavits mandatory for candidates, has told the commission that the filing on false information in the affidavits can be a valid ground for disqualification.
“The Constitution provides for disqualification of candidates on this ground,” Anil Bairwal, national coordinator for the association told HT.
But, the electoral law does not take that into account the Constitutional provision resulting in at least 10 persons getting elected in the recent past after concealing information on their criminal past.
The EC has suggested changes in Representation of People’s Act enabling the election returning officers to disqualify a person on this ground.
“False information or suppression of material information in the affidavit could mislead the electors and has to be viewed as a serious offence in context of election,” the commission’s secretary KF Wilfred said, in his letter to the law ministry.