Candidates often choose to withhold “inconvenient information” while filing the mandatory affidavit along with their nomination papers for elections, but now it will not be viable.
The Election Commission of India has decided that a candidate will have to fill every column with relevant information while filing the affidavit. “A candidate who chooses to leave any column blank in the affidavit will be liable to be disqualified. We plan to enforce this in the coming Lok Sabha polls,” a top EC functionary told The Indian Express.
All Returning Officers (RO) have been asked to carefully scrutinise the affidavits when candidates file their nomination papers. “ROs will inform the candidate about it (incomplete affidavit) and provide him or her an opportunity to fill any column that may have been left blank. If a candidate fails to complete the affidavit, the nomination papers will be rejected,” a senior EC official explained.
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Information relating to criminal background, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications are sought in the affidavit. “Past experience has shown that many candidates chose not to fill some of the columns they found inconvenient at times. The columns they chose to leave blank were often related to their educational qualifications, liabilities and the market value of their immovable properties. It was felt that by withholding such inputs, the candidates were denying the voters information that could be critical for them to make a right choice,” a senior EC official explained.
Most of the major political parties, including the Congress and the BJP, had expressed strong reservations against the move, but the EC rejected their arguments.