New Delhi

A trial court’s order admitting for hearing a complaint against Human Resource Development minister Smriti Irani, for reportedly misrepresenting her educational qualifications in election affidavits, could cause trouble for her.

Though it may take some time for the judicial magistrate to ascertain facts, it is noteworthy that it was on direction of the apex court that filing of the affidavit was made mandatory by all candidates in elections.

In order to bring transparency in the election process, the SC in Association for Democratic Reforms (2002), directed the Election Commission to call for information on affidavit from each candidate with regard to his or her criminal antecedents, assets and liabilities and educational qualification.

It was also directed that non-furnishing of the affidavit by any candidate or furnishing of any wrong or incomplete information or suppression of any material information will result in the rejection of the nomination paper, apart from inviting penal consequences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.

Filing false affidavit could also lead to prosecution of the candidate under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or with both.

The apex court gave the affidavit the status of a pious document holding it in an important place for a voter in determining his choice in election. “A voter has the elementary right to know full particulars of a candidate who is to represent him in the Parliament and such right to get information is universally recognised natural right flowing from the concept of democracy and is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) (right to know) of the Constitution.” the court had held.

In 2013, in the case of Resurgance India Vs Election Commission of India, the SC further ruled that no candidate would be allowed to contest election if he failed to disclose complete information, including details relating to criminal antecedents, assets and educational qualification, in the nomination paper. The court also said the returning officer can reject nomination paper if a candidate failed to fill the those columns blanks.

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