The Supreme Court of India on Thursday stated that the election of a candidate who is found to have concealed his or her criminal antecedents during the nomination procedures, are to be declared null and void.
The apex court argued that by suppressing criminal antecedents, especially if it is related to heinous crimes, a candidate effectively misleads the voters. Unaware of his past, the voters are deprived of making an informed choice and hence such an election is liable to be rejected.
The SC delivered the verdict while hearing a case related to non-disclosure of full particulars in a pending criminal case against Krishnamoorthy, a candidate who was elected as the President of Thekampatti Panchayat, Mettupalayam Taluk in Coimbatore district, Tamil Nadu.
Krishnamoorthy’s election came under question because he had suppressed details of the pending criminal cases filed against him.
“Disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate, especially pertaining to heinous or serious offence or offences relating to corruption or moral turpitude at the time of filing of nomination paper as mandated by law, is a categorical imperative.”
“When there is non-disclosure of the offences pertaining to the areas mentioned in the preceding clause, it creates an impediment in the free exercise of electoral right,” said the Supreme Court bench comprising Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant.
“Concealment or suppression of this nature deprives the voters to make an informed and advised choice, as a consequence of which it would come within the compartment of direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote by the electorate, on the part of the candidate,” the bench added.
“A voter has a fundamental right to know about the candidates contesting the elections as that is essential and a necessary concomitant for a free and fair election.