SC seeks reply on the need to attach material with poll affidavits

RSTV Bureau
File Photo of voters in a queue. (Representational Image).

File Photo of voters in a queue. (Representational Image).

A plea seeking transparency in the poll process by making it mandatory for candidates to furnish information relating to any criminal offence today prompted the Supreme Court to seek responses from the Centre and the Election Commission.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra issued notices to the Ministry of Law and Justice and the Election Commission of India (ECI) and sought their replies in four weeks.

“The citizens have a right to informed choice under Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression) of the Constitution,” advocate Devadatt Kamat, appearing for a Gujarat native, said.

For securing a small government job, a person was required to show all educational certificates. However, a candidate is asked to file only an affidavit in support of his/her claims on issues like educational qualifications, he said.

The top court was hearing a plea filed by Khemchand Rajaram Koshti through advocate Kamat against a Gujarat High Court order dismissing his plea on the same issue.

“Despite the attempt of this Court to ensure transparency in the process of election and to make it mandatory for a candidate to disclose the information relating to criminal offences, liabilities and educational qualification, there is a complete void in the statutory mechanism to even have a prima facie verification of the contents of the affidavit submitted by the candidate.

“The absence of any requirement to give supporting document in support of the affidavit renders the very purpose of giving an affidavit otiose and nugatory, inasmuch as neither the Returning Officer, nor the voter is in a position to appreciate whether the contents of the affidavit at all reflect truth,” the plea said.

Koshti has submitted that in the absence of documents to support the assertions in the affidavit, the purpose of filing the affidavit itself falls flat and the affidavit cannot have any sanctity.