Blank columns in affidavit may annul electoral candidacy: SC

Blank columns in affidavit may annul electoral candidacy: SC

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that no candidate would be allowed to contest election if he or she failed to disclose complete information, including details relating to criminal antecedents, assets and educational qualification, in the nomination paper.

A three-judge bench, presided over by Chief Justice P Sathasivam, rejected the Centre’s opposition to the proposition of giving the returning officer power to reject the nomination papers of candidates for not furnishing the requisite information even after issuance of reminder.

Incomplete information affected a citizen’s right to know under the Constitution, said the bench, adding that any deviation by a candidate on it was non-negotiable.
“If the Election Commission accepts the nomination papers in spite of blank particulars in the affidavits, it will directly violate the fundamental right of the citizen to know the criminal antecedents, assets and liabilities and educational qualification of the candidate,” said the bench, which also had Justices Ranjana Prakash Desai and Ranjan Gogoi on it.

“When a candidate files an affidavit with blank particulars, it renders the affidavit itself nugatory,” said the court, adding that a candidate must explicitly remark as “NIL” or “Not Applicable” or “Not known” in the columns, and not leave the particulars blank.

“If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after reminders by the returning officer, the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of the returning officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very sparingly, but the bar should not be laid so high that justice itself is prejudiced,” it noted, allowing a public interest litigation filed by the NGO Resurgence India.

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