Election Commission to take strict action against candidates filing false affidavits
The Election Commission of India on Tuesday decided to take strict action against candidates filing false affidavits during the nomination process.
In a meeting, chaired by chief election commissioner Sunil Arora and attended by election commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra, the issue was discussed at length.
“Filing of false affidavits by candidates during the nomination process, in terms of false or incomplete information, is a key challenge as it undermines the rights of voters to be fully informed about their political representatives,” the the EC said in a statement.
Affidavits mandate that a candidate disclose any criminal antecedents, assets and liabilities and educational qualifications. Subsequently, the Commission in 2013, decided that the assets and liabilities of the candidates, as filed in their affidavits, would be verified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
“The Commission has today decided to robustly address this challenge to further ensure free, fair and ethical elections in the country,” the statement said.
The Commission has further decided to refer the cases to investigating authorities on a case-to-case basis.
“Now, Commission 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,” it added.
In September 2018, the EC had also asked the central government to make filing a false affidavit a “corrupt practice” under electoral law after the Congress party approached the Commission over “incomplete information” furnished by home minister Amit Shah.
While the Supreme Court had earlier in the same month observed that filing a false affidavit is “in-principle a corrupt practice”, it had added that it couldn’t direct the Parliament to include it. As of now, bribery, appeal on grounds of religion, race and caste, creating enmity between people on the basis of religion, race and caste are considered corrupt practices under section 123 of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.