The Supreme Court yesterday held that the election of a candidate, who has concealed his or her criminal antecedents during nomination process, should be declared null and void. The apex court ruled that the suppression of criminal antecedents, especially relating to heinous crimes, by a candidate during nomination deprived voters to make an informed choice and created impediments in the free exercise of electoral right. Such an election is liable to be rejected.
The judgment was delivered in a case relating to non-disclosure of full particulars of criminal cases pending against a candidate, Krishnamoorthy, who was elected as the President of Thekampatti Panchayat, Mettupalayam Taluk in Coimbatore district of Tamil Nadu in 2006. Krishnamoorthy’s election was challenged on the sole ground that he had filed a false declaration suppressing details of the criminal cases pending against him and therefore his nomination ought to have been rejected by the Returning Officer.
The court held that non-disclosure of criminal antecedents on part of a candidate 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 Representation of the People Act,1951. As many as 53 MPs in 16th Lok Sabha face criminal cases in which charges have been framed under various sections of the Representation of the People Act and could face disqualification if convicted.