Assembly Election 2021: An overview of EC norms for candidates facing criminal cases

The EC has said that the candidates with criminal antecedents should publish information about the cases against them in newspapers and on television channels on three occasions during the campaign period.

FP Research March 30, 2021 16:03:05 IST pollpedia
Assembly Election 2021: An overview of EC norms for candidates facing criminal cases

Representational image. PTI

The upcoming Assembly elections are scheduled to be held in eight phases from 27 March. In view of the polls and the COVID-19 pandemic, the Election Commission has laid down several guidelines for political parties and candidates for a smooth polling process.

In relation with the candidates who have criminal cases registered against them, several norms have been laid—many of which were highlighted in the EC release dated 26 February 2021. Here’s a look at the key norms:

For candidates with criminal cases:

The EC has said that the candidates with criminal antecedents should publish information about the cases against them in newspapers and on television channels on three occasions during the campaign period.

The commission has directed that the period specified will be decided with three blocks in
following manner, so that electors have sufficient time to know about the background
of such candidates:
a. Within the first four days of the last date of withdrawal.
b. Between next five to eight days.
c. From the ninth day till the last day of campaign (the second day prior to
date of poll)

To explain this in detail, the EC has provided the following instance: If the last date for withdrawal is 10th of the month and poll is on 24th of the month, the first block for publishing of declaration shall be done between 11th and 14th of the month, second and third blocks shall be between 15th and 18th and 19th and 22nd of that month, respectively.

For political parties:

A political party that has nominees with pending criminal cases against them has to publish information about the criminal background of the candidates on its website, newspapers, and television channel on the specified three occasions.

The details should include the nature of the offences, relevant particulars such as whether the charges have been framed, the concerned court, the case number, etc. The parties have also been instructed to list their reasons for their selection of the candidates and why others without criminal antecedents were not selected in their place. The reasons for their selection needs to be in reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the concerned candidate and not the mere “winnability” at the polls, according to the EC release.

This information should also be published in:

A. One national newspaper and one local vernacular newspaper;
(a) The national newspaper should be any daily newspaper which meets the
following norms:
1. At least one edition with circulation beyond 75,000 as stated by Directorate of Advertising and Visual Publicity/Audit Bureau of Circulation in publicly-available records.
2. Has editions in more than one state.

(b) The local vernacular newspaper should be a daily newspaper which meets
the following norms:
1. Has at least one edition published within the geographical territory of the
State/Union Territory, in the local vernacular language, with a circulation of at least
25,000.

2. Is registered with the Department of Information and Public Relations of the concerned state/Union Territory, and eligible for receiving advertisements from it.

3. List of local vernacular languages in each State/UT shall be specified by the CEO of the state/Union Territory.

B. On the official social media platforms of the political party, including Facebook
and Twitter.

The parties should publish these details within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier. The political party concerned should then submit a report of compliance with these directions with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate. If a political party fails to submit such compliances report, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this court's orders/directions.

The Supreme Court had in February 2020 ruled that political parties should upload on their website detailed information of pending criminal cases against their candidates who are contesting polls.

Updated Date:

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