Election: non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate, at the time of filing of nomination

Rule of Law in a Democratic Society:

In a respectable and elevated constitutional democracy purity of election, probity in governance, sanctity of individual dignity, sacrosanctity of rule of law, certainty and sustenance of independence of judiciary, efficiency and acceptability of bureaucracy, credibility of institutions, integrity and respectability of those who run the institutions and prevalence of mutual deference among all the wings of the State are absolutely significant, in a way, imperative. They are not only to be treated as essential concepts and remembered as glorious precepts but also to be practised so that in the conduct of every individual they are concretely and fruitfully manifested. The crucial recognised ideal which is required to be realised is eradication of criminalisation of politics and corruption in public life. When criminality enters into the grass-root level as well as at the higher levels there is a feeling that ‘monstrosity’ is likely to wither away the multitude and eventually usher in a dreadful fear that would rule supreme creating an incurable chasm in the spine of the whole citizenry. In such a situation the generation of today, in its effervescent ambition and volcanic fury, smothers the hopes, aspirations and values of tomorrow’s generation and contaminate them with the idea to pave the path of the past, possibly thinking, that is the noble tradition and corruption can be a way of life and one can get away with it by a well decorated exterior. But, an intervening and pregnant one, there is a great protector, and an unforgiving one, on certain occasions and some situations, to interdict – “The law’, the mightiest sovereign in a civilised society.

Non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate:

(a) Disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate, especially, pertaining to heinous or serious offence or offences relating to corruption or moral turpitude at the time of filing of nomination paper as mandated by law is a categorical imperative.

(b) When there is non-disclosure of the offences pertaining to the areas mentioned in the preceding clause, it creates an impediment in the free exercise of electoral right.

(c) Concealment or suppression of this nature deprives the voters to make an informed and advised choice as a consequence of which it would come within the compartment of direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote by the electorate, on the part of the candidate.

(d) As the candidate has the special knowledge of the pending cases where cognizance has been taken or charges have been framed and there is a non- disclosure on his part, it would amount to undue influence and, therefore, the election is to be declared null and void by the Election Tribunal under Section 100(1)(b) of the 1951 Act.

(e) The question whether it materially affects the election or not will not arise in a case of this nature.

[Source : Krishnamoorthy vs Sivakumar decided by SC on 21 January, 2015]

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