Candidates failing to put out advertisements listing their criminal records during electioneering could face contempt of court proceedings and those publishing wrong info about their rivals’ criminal antecedents could end up paying penalty for indulging in corrupt practices, the Election Commission has said.
Following a Supreme Court direction, the poll panel had on October 10 made it compulsory for candidates contesting polls to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV channels and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.
The directive comes into force in the assembly elections in five states — Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Mizoram and Telangana — in November-December.
According to the directive, political parties too will have to publicise criminal records of their candidates.
In a set of ‘frequently asked questions’ issued for the five poll-bound states, the commission has made it clear that candidates who do not have criminal record or ongoing cases, need not issue advertisement.
It said the candidates and their parties would have to bear the cost of advertisements and it would form part of their election expenditure.
To the question “what happens if such candidates or such political parties do not publicise in the manner prescribed”, the commission said, “Such failure may be a ground for post-election action like election petition or contempt of Hon’ble Supreme Court.”
Any candidate or voter of a constituency can file an election petition in the high court of that state challenging the election of the winning candidate.
On the issue of “someone publishing false information about criminal cases of another candidate”, the EC said there are already provisions to deal with any case of publication of false statement in relation to a candidate, including Section 171G of the Indian Penal Code which deals with corrupt electoral practices and prescribes a fine for such offences.