New Delhi: A PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court to direct the Central Government to take appropriate steps to make false statement before the Election Commission, a `corrupt practice’ and an electoral offence with enhanced imprisonment of two years.
Currently, a candidate is required to furnish an affidavit, in the shape of Form 26 appended to the Conduct of Elections Rules, 1961, containing information regarding their criminal antecedents, if any, their assets, liabilities, and educational qualification. Section 125A of Representation of the People Act, 1951 provides for the penalty for filing false affidavit but the offence is punishable by up to 6 months, or with fine, or with both.
In his PIL, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya, BJP spokesperson said though filing false affidavit by candidates is an offence, as there is no follow up action by the Chief Electoral officer of the constituency, candidates are not punished though they mislead the voters with false information. The petitioner pointed out that from the year 2000 it is observed that not only the Parliament and State Assembly General Election, even in the by-elections; false affidavit and spurious declaration is given by the contesting candidates, which is against the basic dictum of democracy and free and fair election, in the spirit of Articles 14, 19 and 324 of the Constitution of India.
He said the Law Commission of India in its 244th Report proposed that filing of the false affidavit should be made cognizable offence with minimum two years imprisonment. However, the Central Government did nothing in this regard till date. Hence the present petition to direct the Government of India to take apposite steps to increase the punishment for filing false affidavit to two years imprisonment without alternative clause of fine and declare it a corrupt practice and disqualify such person from contesting election. He also wanted a direction to the Centre to amend the RP Act to provide that any complaint regarding false statement in the affidavit in connection with the nomination paper shall be filed before the Returning Officer (RO) concerned within a period of 30 days from the date of declaration of the election and that it shall be responsibility of the RO to take proper follow-up action. Alternatively, complaint can be filed directly to the Magistrate Court, he said and sought a direction in this regard.