PANAJI: None of the candidates having criminal records in Goa has published advertisements in major newspapers informing voters about involvement in serious criminal cases, the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) said.

In September 2018, a constitution bench of the Supreme Court headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra, had directed that election candidates, after filing their nominations, should repeatedly make declarations in print and electronic media at the constituency level about any criminal antecedents.

In a letter to the chief electoral officer for Goa, Kunal, the ADR has stated that candidates with criminal antecedents have failed to comply with the guidelines set by the SC and the Election Commission of India (ECI). “This is just to draw your attention to the issue of non-compliance by candidates with criminal antecedents contesting elections to two Lok Sabha Seats and three seats for assembly byelections,” said Goa state coordinator for ADR, Bhasker Assoldekar.

Of the six candidates who declared criminal cases in their affidavits, three are contesting byelections while the other three are trying their luck in the Lok Sabha polls.

The candidates include AAP’s South Goa Lok Sabha candidate Elvis Gomes, Shiv Sena South Goa candidate Rakhi Naik, and independent candidate for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat, Aishwarya Salgaonkar. Denying this, Elvis Gomes said, “We have publicised and submitted the report of our candidates to the authority concerned.” 

Aspiring MLAs Shekhar Naik in Mapusa, Yogesh Khandeparkar in Shiroda and Sanjay Barde in Mapusa have also reported criminal cases registered against them.

“We had informed them to publish advertisements and asked them to submit a report once they comply with the guidelines,” said North Goa collector and district returning officer R Menaka.

“The percentage of criminals is on an increase in the Lok Sabha as well as in the Rajya Sabha over the past 20 years. Perhaps we have missed out on an opportunity to cleanse our stable,” Assoldekar said in the letter.

When contacted, additional chief electoral officer Narayan Sawant claimed that he did not know if candidates had complied with the order.

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