Election Commission brings out new self-declaration format for parties

​​The new C-7 format to be published in newspapers, on social media platforms and the websites of the parties will now have additional columns 2 and 3. Column 2 will ask parties to declare reasons for selecting a candidate with criminal antecedent...

Agencies
C-7 to be published in papers, on social media, websites of parties to have additional columns 2 and 3
NEW DELHI: The Election Commission has issued a new self-declaration format for political parties to ensure that they make public the criminal antecedents of every candidate, explaining the reasons for selecting such a person.

The new C-7 format to be published in newspapers, on social media platforms and the websites of the parties will now have additional columns 2 and 3.

Column 2 will ask parties to declare reasons for selecting a candidate with criminal antecedents in not more than 100 words. It will specify that the selection explained should be with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate and not mere winnability. Column 3 will ask parties to list out in not more than 100 words reasons “as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates”.


Parties will also have to mention the constituency from where a candidate with criminal antecedents is being fielded, the nature of offences, cases and court number and name, whether or not charges have been framed, whether or not there has been a conviction, details of punishment undergone if any.

The information shall also be published in a regional newspaper and a national newspaper in a font size of at least 12, on the official social media platforms of the party, including Facebook and Twitter.

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This new format is to be made public within 48 hours of the selection of a candidate by a political party and at least two weeks before the candidate files his nomination, as per EC directions. Failure to do so will render the party liable to contempt proceedings before the SC, the EC has warned. It has further clarified that failure to abide by the directions will also be treated as failure to follow a lawful direction of the commission for the purposes of Paragraph-16A of the Elections Symbols (Reservation & Allotment) Order, 1968. This means that the commission can freeze a party’s election symbol in case of a violation.

The move follows the SC’s February order and the earlier EC instructions on the matter issued on October 10, 2018 and March 19, 2019.

“Information regarding individuals with criminal cases, who have been selected as candidates, shall be published by political parties in newspapers, on social media platform and website of the parties,” the EC has written to parties.

Political parties are to send a compliance report in the enclosed Format C-8 to the Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the candidate.

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The EC move and the court’s directions come against a backdrop of increasing criminalisation of politics. While it is anyone’s guess whether publicising a candidate’s criminal record will help rid our polity of increasing criminalelements, it is hoped that this will at least generate greater public awareness and help voters make more responsible electoral choices.

Recent analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) says that near half of the Lok Sabha MPs elected in 2019 have declared criminal cases against themselves- a 44% increase from 2009. The figure was 34% in 2014.
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