The Gujarat High Court today dismissed a PIL seeking court’s direction to the Election Commission to ensure that a candidate contesting election also submits documents in support of claims made in the affidavit.
A division bench of Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi dismissed the petition on the ground that a Supreme Court’s 2002 judgement (in Union of India vs Association of Democratic Reforms case) did not contain direction regarding submission of documents.
The court said that it cannot give new direction based on a few instances of fraud committed by elected representatives.
The 2002 Supreme Court judgement had made it mandatory for a candidate to submit details regarding criminal offences, assets, liabilities and educational qualifications.
Petitioner K R Koshti had submitted before the court that candidates looking to contest elections give false information regarding their details.
The provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, do not empower returning officers to check and cross verify any detail submitted by the candidate in the absence of documents supporting averment made in the affidavit submitted before a returning officer, the petition contended.
Due to this, many candidates either file false affidavits or conceal important informations, it contended.
The petitioner claimed that there have been several cases of “defective affidavits, fake degrees, false affidavits, concealment of important information by the returning candidates.”
The petitioner also contended that to make the process transparent, the high court should direct Election Commission to ensure that a candidate also provides documentary evidences to support averments made in the affidavit.