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Come-clean directive for candidates

New Delhi, Sept. 6: Candidates contesting parliamentary and Assembly elections will now have to furnish information on whether they have been charged with any offence that could lead to a two-year imprisonment in a pending criminal case.

In a notification today, the Centre said candidates will have to come clean while filing nomination forms to certify that they have not been booked for any offence other than those already mentioned under Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act.

The existing form or nomination paper does not provide for any information to be given by a candidate either relating to Section 8 or to any other criminal cases. This section debars candidates charged with certain offences from contesting elections and being a member of the legislature for a specified time.

The move to cleanse the electoral system has been on the agenda for a long time. Recently, the Supreme Court directed the Election Commission to lay down certain criteria for candidates. But political parties across the spectrum opposed the conditions suggested by the poll panel.

It has now been proposed that there should be a law with the diluted proposals.

The notification says that though in 1997 the poll panel had issued instructions to candidates for providing information on their track record of convictions, it later diluted the stand. “The revised affidavit restricted the information only with regard to conviction under Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act.”

The proposals on electoral reforms mooted by the commission had suggested including educational qualifications of the candidates and a disclosure of their financial assets — both of which were shot down by all political parties. Congress president Sonia Gandhi, however, later said that her party was not opposed to the clause requiring disclosure of assets by candidates.

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