The Election Commission (EC) has recommended immediate disqualification and imprisonment of up to two years of candidates providing false information in affidavits to be submitted ahead of elections.
Contestants in the fray for the forthcoming general elections are likely to be required to submit information on their socio-economic background online and attach printouts with nomination papers.
The EC looks set to replicate the income tax department model and ask candidates to submit affidavits on criminal records, assets and educational background through its website.
Once the information is submitted, candidates will be required to take printouts of the same on a stamp paper and submit it along with nomination papers to the returning officers of their constituencies.
“This will deter candidates from leaving any of the columns empty. The candidates will not be able to go to the next page until complete information in the previous page is provided,” an EC official said.
Besides streamlining the process to make affidavits available in public domain quickly, the move will prevent candidates from hiding information. It will also help the commission to crack down on candidates providing false or wrong information in their affidavits.
The Supreme Court has recently upheld the EC’s power to take action against candidates who provide false information. The power was suspended for long after the Patna high court said the Representation of People’s Act did not give the EC the authority to take action for providing false information. The SC termed the interpretation wrong.
Following the apex court’s verdict, the EC has written to the government to provide it with power for immediate disqualification and imprisonment of up to two years of candidates giving wrong information under oath.
To start with, the online facility will be available in English and Hindi. Later, the commission will extend it to other regional languages.
“We have successfully tested the pilots of providing all affidavits of the candidates on EC’s website for easy access. Till now, our officials are doing it. We want to take it forward and ask candidates to submit the information online,” an EC official said.
Chief election commissioner V S Sampath is keen that the online mode becomes applicable for the next general elections likely to take place in April-May 2014, a source said.