Candidates will now have to declare their as well as spouse’s sources of income while filing nominations to contest polls, a move that the Election Commission says will usher in more transparency. The government has amended the Conduct of Election Rules to include a fresh column in the affidavit relating to the “source of income of: self and spouse”.
The Election Commission had approached the Law Ministry in this regard last year. The Commission is of the view that it will bring transparency in the election process.
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court earlier this year on the same issue, the poll watchdog had said that it is necessary for “healthier democracy” that voters get to know the sources of income of aspiring candidates and family members. The new rules were notified on April 7 by the Law Ministry.
Before that, a candidate was required to disclose details of assets and liabilities for self, spouse and three dependents in Form 26 while filing nomination paper but not the source of income.
“The existing format of the poll affidavit (as prevalent before April 7) does not give any information in respect of the sources of income of the candidate and his family members to enable the electors to form an informed choice as to whether the increase of the income of the candidate from the previous election is reasonable or not,” the Commission had said in the apex court.
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Only an Indian national can contest election in the country. But now there will be a specific column asking the candidate whether he or she is an Indian citizen.
Also, the declarations regarding conflict of interest and office of profit have been expanded through the amendments. The candidates will have to tell specifically whether he or she holds an office of profit. Holding such an office attracts immediate disqualification.
Similarly, the candidate will have to tell whether he or she is a manager in a government company. Those holding such positions are barred from contesting.
The contesting candidates will have to explain whether they were dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty while holding office under the central or the state government.
If the candidate had been on an earlier occasion disqualified under the Representation of the People Act for spreading enmity, he or she will have to mention it in the forms submitted to the returning officer. The candidates, if they so wish, can also give details of their e-mail addresses and social media accounts in their nomination papers.