Govt rejects EC proposal on dues clearance for contesting polls

The poll watchdog had written to the law ministry urging it to amend election laws to include failure to clear dues of public utilities as a disqualification

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: October 8, 2017 12:58 pm
Election Commission, congress in gujarat, Congress MLA's in gujarat, gujarat news, Election commission on safety of MLA's, India news, national news, latest news, india news Election Commission of India. (File Photo)

The government has rejected an Election Commission proposal to bar candidates, who have failed to clear dues such as government house rent, electricity and power bills, from contesting elections. The poll watchdog had written to the law ministry urging it to amend election laws to include failure to clear dues of public utilities as a disqualification from contesting Lok Sabha and assembly polls.

According to the EC, barring candidates will require amendment to the chapter-III of the Representation of the People Act which deals with electoral offences. A new clause will have to be inserted therein for disqualification “on the ground of being a defaulter of public dues”. But in its brief response sent to the EC in May, the law ministry said the proposal is “not desirable”, a senior functionary said.

The law ministry feels that the ban would not be desirable as the authority issuing the no-dues certificate or the no-objection certificate to a candidate could be biased and may not give the required papers, the functionary said. The ministry also felt that in cases of dispute on the dues, the matter could be referred to a court and may take time to settle. In such cases, it would not be desirable to deny the candidate with the no dues certificate.

The poll panel’s move seeking change in election law is the outcome of a July, 2015 Delhi High Court order which had asked the EC to “also consider the possibility, if any, of putting any impediment to a defaulter of public dues contesting election, to ensure quick recovery of the said dues”. Based on the judgement, the commission had recently made it mandatory for candidates contesting polls to furnish a ‘no dues certificate’ from the agency providing electricity, water and telephone connections to their accommodation.

In the recent assembly polls, some of the candidates could not file their nomination as they had not provided a ‘no dues certificate’, the then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had told PTI in March. But the EC wanted a legal backing to bar people without a no dues certificate from contesting polls.

Based on the same judgement, the EC had recently asked all recognised national and state parties to submit an annual report to the Commission declaring that there are no dues pending in the form of rent for occupying government premises, telephone, electricity and water bills. The report for a particular financial year should be submitted to the Commission latest by June 30 of the following year.

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