Chandigarh, March 22: In pursuance of directions issued by the Supreme Court, the Election Commission of India has amended the form-26 being part of the nomination form thereby mandating the candidates contesting parliamentary elections to provide complete information regarding the pending criminal cases against them or cases in which they have been convicted. Such candidates would be bound to give information in this regard to the general public through print and electronic media. The Election Commission of India has also uploaded a questionnaire with answers on its official website to clear the doubt and queries of candidates regarding Form No.26.
Disclosing this here today, the Chief Electoral Officer Dr. S. Karuna Raju said that the office of CEO Punjab would finalize the list of newspapers and TV Channels in which the information regarding criminal past was to be printed/telecast and subsequently, given to the candidates/political parties for dissemination of information in this regard. The CEO further pointed out the entire exercise would have to be completed from April 22, 2019 to May 17, 2019 as the last date for the withdrawal of nominations was May 2 and the polling would be held on May 19, 2019. The ECI also informed that the publicity of information regarding criminal past of the candidates would be telecast on TV Channels from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm in local language or English. The concerned candidates and political parties would furnish the requisite information in the prescribed format i.e. form C-4 and C-5 respectively to the District Election Officers. In case, any candidate of the political party with criminal past flout the prescribed guidelines of the Supreme Court in this regard then either an Election Petition could be filed or a case could be registered against him on the basis of contempt of the apex court after the election.
The CEO informed that the concerned political party and candidates would have to get this declaration published in the news papers in a particular region thrice in 12 font size at appropriate place and the same may be telecast for at least seven seconds in the prescribed format for TV Channels to ensure the implementation of the directions in letter and spirit. He also clarified that criminal proceedings under section 123 (4) of Peoples’ Representation Act and under section 51 and 171 (G) of the Indian Penal Code would be initiated in case the candidate furnishes wrong information. Dr. Raju further reiterated that such advertisement was to be got published from only those candidates, who were either convicted or having pending criminal cases. He also clarified that those candidates, who have not been either convicted or there is no pending criminal case against them need not to publish such advertisements. He further informed that candidates with criminal past are required to clearly mention the title of the case with number and status along with the details of the case under item no. 5 of form 26. If the status of the case is changed after filing the nomination papers by the candidates, it will be up to the candidate that whether he wants to apprise concerned Returning Officer or not about the notification in this regard, he added.
The CEO stated that the expenditure of advertisements in this regard would be incurred by the political Party and the Candidates, which would be added in the election expenses. He also mentioned that Returning Officers could not enquire about the authenticity of claims made by the candidates regarding criminal past for disseminating information being published in newspapers and telecast on TV Channels.