The Election Commission on Saturday rolled out certain measures for political parties. This was to ensure that candidates with criminal antecedents do not find a place in the upcoming five-state assembly elections.
The Election Commission said that candidates who have criminal antecedents will have to reveal themselves. They have to first publish the information in newspapers and on television channels at least three times during the campaign phase.
At the same time, there are also rules for a political party that picks up candidates with criminal antecedents. They will also need to publish information about the candidates’ criminal backgrounds. This information will be shared on the party’s website. They will also share it in print and electronic media thrice.
The Election Commission cited a February 2020 Supreme Court order. It announced that it was mandatory for political parties — both national and state level — to upload elaborate information about individuals with pending criminal cases on their website.
This was for political parties at both the national and international levels. The information posted will also include details of the nature of the offenses. The most important information is that whether the public framed any charges against the accused. It will also include the concerned court, the case number, etc.
While furnishing these details, the parties would also have to outline the reasons for selecting the candidate with criminal antecedents. They would have to state why they chose those candidates over those who have no such record.
The Election Commission made one thing very clear. It said that the reasons the political parties will give out with regard to selection shall be with reference to good things. These included the candidate’s qualifications and merits, and not just ‘winnability’ at the election.
According to the Election Commission, this information will also need to be posted in at least one local vernacular newspaper. It will also be posted in one national newspaper.
Furthermore, parties with social media presence shall share the information on candidates on their official social media platforms. These social media platforms include Twitter and Facebook.
The Election Commission made it clear that the parties will make these details public within 48 hours of the candidate’s selection. The Election Commission will not accept it if the parties publicize the information two weeks before the first date of filing nominations.
“It is mandatory for political parties to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases selected as poll candidates. They will also have to give a reason to select the candidate,” chief election commissioner Sushil Chandra said in a media briefing.
Every party would need to compile a compliance report. They will have to submit the same to the Election Commission within 72 hours of the said candidate’s selection. Failure to comply will prompt the Election Commission to bring the non-compliance to the notice of the Supreme Court. It will be for being in contempt of its orders.
The five states which will hold their assembly elections in the coming months include Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Goa, and Manipur. As per the schedule announced on Saturday, the voting will take place in seven phases and the counting of votes will take place on March 10.