EC can now act on false poll affidavitsApprox Read Time: 6 minutes
In News: EC can now act on false poll affidavits
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) has recently decided to robustly address the challenge of false information in election affidavits.
What is an Election/Poll Affidavit?
- A poll affidavit is submitted by the candidate at the time of filing nominations for election.
- A candidate in his/her affidavit is required to disclose-
- his criminal antecedents;
- assets and liabilities; and
- educational qualifications
- In 2013, ECI had decided that assets and liabilities of the candidates, as filed in their affidavits, would be verified by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT).
- The Election Commission has been receiving complaints regarding false information in affidavits filed by some candidates.
- This is a matter of concern as it adversely affects the rights of voters and impinges on the purity of electoral process.
- Election Commission has decided to now scrutinize the complaints received against candidates who furnish false information in their affidavits filed at the time of nomination, and refer the matter to relevant investigative agencies on case to case basis.
- In case the investigating authorities find the candidate has lied about her/his affidavit, the Commission will publicize the information in the interest of transparency.
- However, people can still approach courts with their complaints on such matters.
Existing Provisions in Case of False Information:
- As per the existing provisions, individuals are required to file such complaints in the competent courts under Section 125A of the Representation of People Act, 1951.
- Though complaints were also received by EC against false affidavits, the poll panel so far was not taking cognizance of such complaints.
- Under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, the total punishment for filing a false affidavit at the time of filing nomination is six months of imprisonment, or fine or both.
Section 125A of RPA 1951:
- It deals with penalty for filing false affidavit, etc
- It has provisions to punish a candidate who himself or through his proposer, in his nomination papers, with intent to be elected in an election-
- Fails to furnish all the required information, or
- Gives false information which he knows or has reason to believe to be false; or
- conceals any information,
- Such candidates shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both
- Put Simply- Under Section 125A of RP Act, a person found guilty of lying in her affidavit can face a six-month prison term, or fine, or both.
- This punishment is short of the requirement of minimum of two years of sentence for attracting disqualification under Section 8A of the election law.
- Section 8A of the Representation of Peoples Act, 1951 deals with disqualification of candidates on ground of corrupt practices.
- Electoral Reforms Proposed by ECI– As a part of electoral reforms, the ECI had recommended to the central government in 2011 to amend Section 125A of the Act and enhance the sentence for filing a false affidavit to two years. However, the matter has been pending with the Union Law Ministry.
Reasons for the Latest Decision of the ECI:
- As per Article (19)(a) of the Constitution, voter has a fundamental right to know about candidates at an election
- Also, the foundation of a healthy democracy is based upon well-informed the citizens.
- The latest decision by the ECI is a move to ensure fair, free and ethical elections.
Key Provisions of Representation of People’s Act (1951):
- It deals with the actual conduct of elections in the country.
- It provides for the detailed rules for the mode of conduct of elections.
- The act also deals with rules for qualification and disqualification of members of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the state legislatures.
Key Provisions of Representation of People’s Act (1950):
- Its objective is to regulate elections in the country.
- It lays down procedures for delimitation of constituencies of both Lok Sabha and Legislative Assemblies’ elections.
- It provides for the allocation of seats in the Lok Sabha; in the Legislative Assemblies and Legislative Councils of States.
- It lays down the rules for the qualification of voters.
- It lays procedure for the preparation of electoral rolls and the manner of filling seats.