Election Commission said it will investigate complaints against candidates filing incorrect or omitting information in affidavits on a case-to-case basis.
In a significant departure from past practice, the Election Commission on Tuesday said that it has revised its own guidelines and will take cognizance of complaints against candidates filing incorrect or omitting information pertaining to their criminal history, assets and liabilities and educational qualifications in affidavits.
The EC said it will refer such cases for investigation by relevant authorities on a case-to-case basis.
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The development marks a significant shift in the EC’s stand on dealing with false poll affidavits. Earlier, the poll body used to encourage complainants to move court under Section 125A of Representation of the People Act.
The EC said any denial or false disclosure of information in affidavits will amount to vitiating the integrity of elections. It said furnishing false information in affidavits is a devious design to defeat the right of the voter to be informed and transparency in elections.
“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 poll body said.
“Now, the 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 said.
However, people can still approach courts with their complaints on such matters, the EC statement added.
“The EC would not like to go to court. But the public information can be used by people to approach the courts,” a senior EC official told The Indian Express.
The decision was taken during a meeting comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and two Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra. Senior EC officials also attended the meet.
The Election Commission is an independent Constitutional authority which is responsible for the conduct of election to Parliament, state Assemblies, offices of the President and Vice-President.