M A I N   N E W S

EC dares to bare candidates
To publicise records of govt dues
R. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 1
For the first time, the Election Commission would place in public domain the criminal records, financial assets, liabilities and dues to the government of all the candidates aspiring to contest the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections throughout the country.

Sources in the EC today said the commission, as per the directive of the Delhi High Court order, would seek affidavits from the candidates regarding the arrears due from them to the government apart from financial assets/liability and criminal antecedents and place it in public domain.

While former Chief Election Commissioner J. M. Lyngdoh had to face the ire of political parties for calling politicians “cancer”, new CEC T. S. Krishna Murthy, in a subtle manner, has stated that dirty linen of dubious candidates would be washed in public.

Praising the work being done by the election watch group in bringing awareness about the candidates in different parts of the country, Mr Krishna Murthy said, “I am appealing to political parties to choose the best representatives for the people. In the long run, good governance and responsibility towards voters decide the fate of candidates.”

In the same vein, he suggested the introduction of a column in the ballot paper “none of the above” to provide an opportunity to the electorate to reject the selection of candidates by the political parties.

A Division Bench of the High Court said, “The Election Commission shall take effective steps to publicise at least in two local dailies the information furnished by candidates with regard to government dues to be recovered from them.”

The information to be furnished by candidates relate to outstanding bills for facilities of telephone, electricity, water, accommodation and vehicle availed of by them beyond the limits permissible under rules.

The publicity to be given by the EC in the form of advertisements, would be in addition to that given by the media — print and electronic, it said.

Apart from this, the commission said all candidates along with their nomination papers should file an affidavit stating information on criminal antecedents, the movable and immovable properties in their name, in their spouse and dependents and liabilities and their educational qualification.

The filing of the affidavit along with the nomination paper is mandatory and its non-filing will result in the rejection of the nomination paper by the returning officer.

In a move to disseminate information contained in the affidavit to the electorate, the commission said instructions had been issued to the returning officers to make available copies of the affidavits freely to other candidates, general public and others on the very day the nomination is filed by the candidate.

The EC also appealed to the citizens and all interested parties to cooperate with the election authorities for the widest dissemination of this information.

The world’s biggest democracy with 675 million electorate goes to polls in four phases in April/May to elect 543 members of Parliament and Assemblies in four states.

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