Election Commission revises timelines for publicity of criminal history of candidates

• Existing guidelines need every candidate to declare their criminal antecedents three times before an election, in a national daily and two regional language newspapers.

About:

• Candidates and parties time advertisements in such a way that this gets least public attention.

• Under new guidelines, declaration will have to spread over three rounds of publicity beginning with soon after filing nomination and ending towards end of campaign period.

• It will help voters in exercising their choices in a more informed manner.

• In March 2020, EC announced a new self-declaration format for political parties to ensure that they make public details of criminal antecedents of every candidate and explain reasons for their selection.

• It follows a Supreme Court order and earlier EC instructions on the matter issued in 2018 and 2019.

Impact of criminalization:

• It undermines sanctity of Parliament, Loss of public faith in Judicial machinery, culture of muscle and money power in politics etc.

Legal provisions:

• Article 102(1) and 191(1) disqualifies an MPs and an MLAs respectively on certain grounds.

• Section 8 of Representation of People Act, 1951, bans convicted politicians. But those facing trial are free to contest elections.

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Mains Paper 2: Polity

Prelims level: Section 8 of Representation of People Act

Mains level: Timelines for publicity of criminal history of candidates

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