'Utility bill defaulters can contest polls': Govt rejects EC proposal
The Election Commission (EC) wanted to disqualify politicians who had outstanding dues for government accommodation and utilities including telephone, electricity and water supply etc. The EC requested the law ministry to amend the election laws so as to disqualify such individuals from contesting LS and Assembly elections. However, the law ministry shot it down calling the proposal "not desirable." Know more!
The EC's guideline came after an August 2015 order by Delhi HC that asked it to put an "impediment" on defaulters contesting elections to ensure quick recovery of dues. The EC had then asked candidates to furnish a "no dues certificate" from the agencies that provide them water, electricity and telephone connection. However, there's no legal backing of the restriction.
In case the EC plans to bar individuals with outstanding dues from contesting elections, it would require an amendment to the Representation of People Act. A clause for disqualification "on the ground of being a defaulter of public dues" will have to be added.
Centre responded that such a proposal would 'not be desirable' as it was possible that while clearing certificates, the agencies might harass candidates based on their political affiliation. Moreover, they reasoned that this was not a grave offence but a civil law matter. If the matter goes to court, it may take time to settle making it unfair to withhold candidature, it said.
Presently, under Representation of People Act, a candidate can be disqualified if he/she is convicted in certain criminal offences, is involved in corrupt practices, is involved in government contracts or holds an office under a government company and fails to furnish details of election expenses.