Bharti Jain| TNN |
There exists no provision in the Representation of the People Act (RP Act) to disqualify an elected representative convicted of filing a false affidavit.
Six months being the maximum jail-term, it does not attract automatic disqualification under the Act’s Sec 8(3) that provides for immediate disqualification of MPs/ MLAs awarded two or more years’ jail, besides debarring them from contesting polls during the jail term and up to six years after release.
“The RP Act is rather soft towards MPs/MLAs filing false affidavits. Filing of false affidavit is neither an electoral offence under Sec 8(1) which attracts disqualification upon conviction irrespective of prison term, nor does it meet requirements of disqualification under Sec 8(3),” a senior EC official told TOI.
Although Supreme Court had ruled in 2013 that politicians who conceal information in nomination papers should be barred from contesting, the EC has no powers to reject such nominations or set aside the election.
Realising the lacunae, EC has as part of its proposed electoral reforms demanded enhancement of maximum sentence for filing false affidavit to two years without the alternative clause of a fine.
The suggestion, on the table for over a dozen years now, is yet to find favour with the government.
The EC also wants ‘filing of false affidavit’ included in offences under Sec 8(1) and has sought that false affidavits be made a ground to reject nomination papers.