The Election Commission on Thursday told the Supreme Court that a candidate who files a false affidavit at the time of filing his nomination paper does not attract disqualification even if convicted for the offence by a court.
The Election Commission told the bench of Justice J. Chelameswar and Justice S. Abdul Nazeer that under Section 125A of the Representation of People Act, the total punishment for filing a false affidavit at the time of filing nomination is six months, or fine or both and this is well short of the requirement of minimum of two years of sentence for attracting disqualification under Section 8A of the electoral act.
The commission told the court that as a part of electoral reforms, it had, on February 3, 2011, recommended to the Central government to amend Section 125A and enhance the sentence for filing a false affidavit to two years but nothing has been done so far.
Senior counsel Meenakshi Arora said that the punishment of six months does not attract Section 8A, even as under Section 193 of the Indian Penal Code, a person is who gives or fabricates false evidence is punishable with a sentence of up to three years.
The only distinction between two situations is that before a regular court, it is treated as a judicial proceedings, which is not the case at the time of filing false affidavit before the returning officer at the time of elections, she said.
The court was hearing a PIL by NGO Lok Prahari seeking wide range of direction including the disclosure of the sources of income of the candidate, his spouse and dependent children including any subsisting contracts with the government, so that a voter can make an informed choice at the time of elections.
The NGO and the Association of Democratic Reforms have cited instances of lawmakers in parliament and in the state assemblies whose assets increased many folds during their tenure as law makers.