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What emerges from the above discussion can be summarized in the form of following directions: (i) The voter has the elementary right to know full particulars of a candidate who is to represent him in the Parliament/Assemblies and such right to get information is universally recognized. Thus, it is held that right to know about the candidate is a natural right flowing from the concept of democracy and is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. (ii) The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit along with the nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of the citizens under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The citizens are supposed to have the necessary information at the time of filing of nomination paper and for that purpose, the Returning Officer can very well compel a candidate to furnish the relevant information. (iii) Filing of affidavit with blank particulars will render the affidavit nugatory. (iv) It is the duty of the Returning Officer to check whether the information required is fully furnished at the time of filing of affidavit with the nomination paper since such information is very vital for giving effect to the ‘right to know’ of the citizens. If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning Officer, the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very sparingly but the bar should not be laid so high that the justice itself is prejudiced. (v) We clarify to the extent that Para 73 of People’s Union for Civil Liberties case (supra) will not come in the way of the Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper when affidavit is filed with blank particulars. (vi) The candidate must take the minimum effort to explicitly remark as ‘NIL’ or ‘Not Applicable’ or ‘Not known’ in the columns and not to leave the particulars blank. (vii) Filing of affidavit with blanks will be directly hit by Section 125A(i) of the RP Act However, as the nomination paper itself is rejected by the Returning Officer, we find no reason why the candidate must be again penalized for the same act by prosecuting him/her. 28) The Writ Petition is disposed of with the above directions.

published in     http://judis.nic.in/supremecourt/imgst.aspx?filename=40768 

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
1 WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 121 OF 2008

Resurgence India …. Petitioner (s)

Versus

Election Commission of India & Anr. …. Respondent(s)

2

J U D G M E N T
P.Sathasivam, CJI.

1) This writ petition, under Article 32 of the Constitution of India,
has been filed to issue specific directions to effectuate meaningful
implementation of the judgments rendered by this Court in Union of India
vs. Association for Democratic Reforms and Another (2002) 5 SCC 294 and
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and Another vs. Union of India &
Anr. (2003) 4 SCC 399 and also to direct the respondents herein to make it
compulsory for the Returning Officers to ensure that the affidavits filed
by the contestants are complete in all respects and to reject the
affidavits having blank particulars.
Background:
2) In order to maintain purity of elections and to bring transparency in
the process of election, this Court, in Association for Democratic Reforms
(supra), directed the Election Commission of India-Respondent No. 1 herein
to issue necessary orders, in exercise of its power under Article 324 of
the Constitution, to call for information on affidavit from each candidate
seeking election to the Parliament or a State Legislature as a necessary
part of his nomination paper furnishing therein information relating to his
conviction/acquittal/discharge in any criminal offence in the past, any
case pending against him of any offence punishable with imprisonment for 2
years or more, information regarding assets (movable, immovable, bank
balance etc.) of the candidate as well as of his/her spouse and that of
dependants, liability, if any, and the educational qualification of the
candidate.
3) Pursuant to the above order, the Election Commission, vide order
dated 28.06.2002, issued certain directions to the candidates to furnish
full and complete information in the form of an affidavit, duly sworn
before a Magistrate of the First Class, with regard to the matters
specified in Association for Democratic Reforms (supra). It was also
directed that non-furnishing of the affidavit by any candidate or
furnishing of any wrong or incomplete information or suppression of any
material information will result in the rejection of the nomination paper,
apart from inviting penal consequences under the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
It was further clarified that only such information shall be considered to
be wrong or incomplete or suppression of material information which is
found to be a defect of substantial character by the Returning Officer in
the summary inquiry conducted by him at the time of scrutiny of nomination
papers.
4) In People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (supra), though this
Court reaffirmed the aforementioned decision but also held that the
direction to reject the nomination papers for furnishing wrong information
or concealing material information and verification of assets and
liabilities by means of a summary inquiry at the time of scrutiny of the
nominations cannot be justified.
5) Pursuant to the above, the Election Commission, vide order dated
27.03.2003, held its earlier order dated 28.06.2002 non-enforceable with
regard to verification of assets and liabilities by means of summary
inquiry and rejection of nomination papers on the ground of furnishing
wrong information or suppression of material information.
6) Again, the Election Commission of India, vide letter dated 02.06.2004
directed the Chief Electoral Officers of all the States and Union
Territories that where any complaint regarding furnishing of false
information by any candidate is submitted by anyone, supported by some
documentary evidence, the Returning Officer concerned should initiate
action to prosecute the candidate concerned by filing formal complaint
before the appropriate authority.
Brief facts:
7) In the above backdrop, the brief facts of the case in hand are as
under:- Resurgence India-the petitioner herein is a non-governmental
organization (NGO) registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860
and is working for social awakening, social empowerment, human rights and
dignity. During Punjab Legislative Assembly Elections, 2007, the
petitioner-organization undertook a massive exercise under the banner
“Punjab Election Watch’ and affidavits pertaining to the candidates of six
major political parties in the State were analyzed in order to verify their
completeness. During such campaign, large scale irregularities were found
in most of the affidavits filed by the candidates.
8) On 09.02.2007, the petitioner-organization made a representation to
the Election Commission of India regarding large number of non-disclosures
in the affidavits filed by the contestants in the State of Punjab and poor
level of scrutiny by the Returning Officers. Vide letter dated 20.02.2007,
the Election Commission of India expressed its inability in rejecting the
nomination papers of the candidates solely due to furnishing of
false/incomplete information in the affidavits in view of the judgment in
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (supra).
9) Being aggrieved of the same, the petitioner-organization has
preferred this petition for the issuance of a writ of mandamus to make it
compulsory for the Returning Officers to ensure that the affidavits filed
by the contestants should be complete in all respects and to reject those
nomination papers which are accompanied by incomplete/blank affidavits.
The petitioner-organization also prayed for deterrent action against the
Returning Officers in case of acceptance of such incomplete affidavits in
order to remove deficiencies in the format of the prescribed affidavit.
10) Heard Mr. Prashant Bhushan, learned counsel for the petitioner-
organization, Ms. Meenakshi Arora, learned counsel for the Election
Commission of India-Respondent No. 1 herein and Mr. A. Mariarputham,
learned senior counsel for the Union of India.
Prayer/Relief Sought for:

Stand of the Petitioner-Organization:
11) The Petitioner-organization pleaded for issuance of appropriate
writ/direction including the writ of mandamus directing the respondents
herein to make it compulsory for the Returning Officers to ensure that the
affidavits filed by the candidates are complete in all respects and to
reject those nomination papers, which are accompanied by blank affidavits.
Stand of the Election Commission of India:
It is the stand of the Election Commission of India that the judgment in
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (supra) does not empower the
Returning Officers to reject the nomination papers solely due to furnishing
of false/incomplete/blank information in the affidavits signed by the
candidates. In succinct, they put forth the argument that they do not have
any latitude for rejecting the nomination papers in view of the above
mentioned judgment. However, learned counsel for the Election Commission
of India made an assertion that the Election Commission too is of the
opinion that incomplete nomination papers must be rejected. Hence, the
Election Commission of India sought for clarification in that regard.
Stand of the Union of India:
The Union of India also put forth the similar contention as raised by the
Election Commission. Interestingly, the Union of India also raised a query
as to how this Court will be justified in accepting the nomination paper
with false information but rejecting the nomination paper for filing
affidavit with particulars left blank and hence prayed that both the
abovesaid situations must be treated at par.
Discussion:
12) Both the petitioner-organisation and the respondent/UOI sought
divergent remedies against the same situation viz., wherein the affidavit
filed by the candidate stating the information given as correct but the
particulars of the same are left blank. The petitioner-organisation is
seeking for rejection of nomination paper in such a situation whereas the
Union of India is pleading for treating it at par with filing false
affidavit and to prosecute the candidate under Section 125A of the
Representation of the People Act, 1951 (in short ‘the RP Act’).
13) In order to appreciate the issue involved, it is desirable to refer
the relevant provisions of the RP Act. Sections 33A, 36 and 125A of the RP
Act read as under:
“33A. Right to information.—(1) A candidate shall, apart from
any information which he is required to furnish, under this Act
or the rules made thereunder, in his nomination paper delivered
under sub-section (1) of section 33, also furnish the
information as to whether –
(i) he is accused of any offence punishable with imprisonment
for two years or more in a pending case in which a charge has
been framed by the court of competent jurisdiction;
(ii) he has been convicted of an offence [other than any
offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), or
covered in sub-section (3), of section 8] and sentenced to
imprisonment for one year or more.
(2) The candidate or his proposer, as the case may be, shall, at
the time of delivering to the returning officer the nomination
paper under sub-section (1) of section 33, also deliver to him
an affidavit sworn by the candidate in a prescribed form
veryfying the information specified in sub-section (1).
(3) The returning officer shall, as soon as may be after the
furnishing of information to him under sub-section (1), display
the aforesaid information by affixing a copy of the affidavit,
delivered under sub-section (2), at a conspicuous place at his
office for the information of the electors relating to a
constituency for which the nomination paper is delivered.
36. Scrutiny of nomination.—(1) On the date fixed for the
scrutiny of nominations under section 30, the candidates, their
election agents, one proposer of each candidate, and one other
person duly authorized in writing by each candidate, but no
other person, may attend at such time and place as the returning
officer may appoint; and the returning officer shall give them
all reasonable facilities for examining the nomination papers of
all candidates which have been delivered within the time and in
the manner laid down in section 33.
(2) The returning officer shall then examine the nomination
papers and shall decide all objections which may be made to any
nomination and may, either on such objection or on his own
motion, after such summary inquiry, if any, as he thinks
necessary, reject any nomination on any of the following
grounds:—
(a) that on the date fixed for the scrutiny of nominations the
candidate either is not qualified or is disqualified for being
chosen to fill the seat under any of the following provisions
that may be applicable, namely: Articles 84, 102, 173 and 191,
Part II of this Act, and sections 4 and 14 of the
Government of Union Territories Act, 1963 (20 of 1963); or
(b) that there has been a failure to comply with any of the
provisions of section 33 or section 34 ; or
(c) that the signature of the candidate or the proposer on the
nomination paper is not genuine.
(3) Nothing contained in clause (b) or clause (c) of sub-section
(2) shall be deemed to authorize the rejection of the nomination
of any candidate on the ground of any irregularity in respect of
a nomination paper, if the candidate has been duly nominated by
means of another nomination paper in respect of which no
irregularity has been committed.
(4) The returning officer shall not reject any nomination paper
on the ground of any defect which is not of a substantial
character.
(5) The returning officer shall hold the scrutiny on the date
appointed in this behalf under clause (b) of section 30 and
shall not allow any adjournment of the proceedings except when
such proceedings are interrupted or obstructed by riot or open
violence or by causes beyond his control:
Provided that in case an objection is raised by the returning
officer or is made by any other person the candidate concerned
may be allowed time to rebut it not later than the next day but
one following the date fixed for scrutiny, and the returning
officer shall record his decision on the date to which the
proceedings have been adjourned.
(6) The returning officer shall endorse on each nomination paper
his decision accepting or rejecting the same and, if the
nomination paper is rejected, shall record in writing a brief
statement, of his reasons for such rejection.
(7) For the purposes of this section, a certified copy of an
entry in the electoral roll for the time being in force of a
constituency shall be conclusive evidence of the fact that the
person referred to in that entry is an elector for that
constituency, unless it is proved that he is subject to a
disqualification mentioned in section 16 of the Representation
of the People Act, 1950 (43 of 1950).
(8) Immediately after all the nomination papers have been
scrutinized and decisions accepting or rejecting the same have
been recorded, the returning officer shall prepare a list of
validly nominated candidates, that is to say, candidates whose
nominations have been found valid, and affix it to his notice
board.
125A. Penalty for filing false affidavit, etc.—A candidate who
himself or through his proposer, with intent to be elected in an
election,-
(i) fails to furnish information relating to sub-section (1) of
section 33A; or
(ii) gives false information which he knows or has reason to
believe to be false; or
(iii) conceals any information, in his nomination paper
delivered under sub-section (1) of section 33 or in his
affidavit which is required to be delivered under sub-section
(2) of section 33A, as the case may be, shall, notwithstanding
anything contained in any other law for the time being in force,
be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to
six months, or with fine, or with both.”
14) In view of the above, the power to reject the nomination paper by the
Returning Officer on the instance of candidate filing the affidavit with
particulars left blank can be derived from the reasoning of a three-Judge
Bench of this Court in Shaligram Shrivastava vs. Naresh Singh Patel (2003)
2 SCC 176. In the aforesaid case, the nomination paper of a candidate got
rejected at the time of scrutiny under Section 36(2) of the RP Act on the
ground that he had not filled up the proforma prescribed by the Election
Commission wherein the candidate was required to state whether he had been
convicted or not for any offence mentioned in Section 8 of the RP Act. In
actual, the candidate therein had filed an affidavit stating that the
information given in the proforma was correct but the proforma itself was
left blank. The candidate therein coincidentally raised somewhat similar
contention as pleaded by the Union of India in the present case. The
candidate pleaded that his nomination paper could not be rejected on the
ground that he had not filled up the proforma prescribed since no such
proforma was statutorily provided under the provisions of the Act or under
the rules framed thereunder. It was contended that the Commission could not
legislate to prescribe a proforma; at best it can only be an executive
instruction of the Election Commission whereas the petitioner had filled
the proforma prescribed under the Rules, which did not suffer from any
defect.
15) Although, the grounds of contention may not be exactly similar to the
case on hand but the reasoning rendered in that verdict will come in aid
for arriving at a decision in the given case. In order to arrive at a
conclusion in that case, this Court traversed through the objective behind
filing the proforma. The proforma mandated in that case was required to be
filed as to the necessary and relevant information with regard to the
candidate in the light of Section 8 of the RP Act. This Court further held
that at the time of scrutiny, the Returning Officer is entitled to satisfy
himself whether the candidate is qualified and not disqualified, hence, the
Returning Officer was authorized to seek such information to be furnished
at the time or before scrutiny. It was further held that if the candidate
fails to furnish such information and also absents himself at the time of
the scrutiny of the nomination papers, then he is obviously avoiding a
statutory inquiry being conducted by the Returning Officer under Section
36(2) of the RP Act relating to his being not qualified or disqualified in
the light of Section 8 of the RP Act. It is bound to result in defect of a
substantial character in the nomination. This Court further held as under:-

“17. In the case in hand the candidate had failed to furnish such
information as sought on the pro forma given to him and had also
failed to be present personally or through his representative at the
time of scrutiny. The statutory duty/power of Returning Officer for
holding proper scrutiny of nomination paper was rendered nugatory. No
scrutiny of the nomination paper could be made under Section 36(2) of
the Act in the light of Section 8 of the Act. It certainly rendered
the nomination paper suffering from defect of substantial character
and the Returning Officer was within his rights in rejecting the
same.”
16) It is clear that the Returning Officers derive the power to reject
the nomination papers on the ground that the contents to be filled in the
affidavits are essential to effectuate the intent of the provisions of the
RP Act and as a consequence, leaving the affidavit blank will in fact make
it impossible for the Returning Officer to verify whether the candidate is
qualified or disqualified which indeed will frustrate the object behind
filing the same. In concise, this Court in Shaligram (supra) evaluated the
purpose behind filing the proforma for advancing latitude to the Returning
Officers to reject the nomination papers.
17) In the light of the above reasoning, now let us assess the facts of
the given case. In Association for Democratic Reforms (supra), this Court
arrived at a decision that the members of a democratic society should be
sufficiently informed so that they may influence intelligently the
decisions which may affect themselves and it would include their decision
of casting votes in favour of a particular candidate. This Court further
held that if there was a disclosure by a candidate with regard to his
criminal antecedents, assets and liabilities and educational qualification,
then it would strengthen the voters in taking appropriate decision of
casting their votes. This Court further stated as under:-
“38. If right to telecast and right to view to sport games and
right to impart such information is considered to be part and
parcel of Article 19(1)(a), we fail to understand why the right of
a citizen/voter – a little man – to know about the antecedents of
his candidate cannot be held to be a fundamental right under
Article 19(1)(a). In our view, democracy cannot survive without
free and fair election, without free and fairly informed voters.
Votes cast by uninformed voters in favour of X or Y candidate would
be meaningless. As stated in the aforesaid passage, one-sided
information, disinformation, misinformation and non-information,
all equally create an uninformed citizenry, which makes democracy a
farce. Therefore, casting of vote by a misinformed and non-informed
voter or a voter having one-sided information only is bound to
affect the democracy seriously. Freedom of speech and expression
includes right to impart and receive information, which includes
freedom to hold opinions. Entertainment is implied in freedom of
‘speech and expression’ and there is no reason to hold that freedom
of speech and expression would not cover right to get material
information with regard to a candidate who is contesting election
for a post which is of utmost importance in the democracy.
46. …4. To maintain the purity of elections and in particular to
bring transparency in the process of election, the Commission can
ask the candidates about the expenditure incurred by the political
parties and this transparency in the process of election would
include transparency of a candidate who seeks election or re-
election. In a democracy, the electoral process has a strategic
role. The little man of this country would have basic elementary
right to know full particulars of a candidate who is to represent
him in Parliament where laws to bind his liberty and property may
be enacted.
…7. Under our Constitution, Article 19(1)(a) provides for freedom
of speech and expression. Voters’s speech or expression in case of
election would include casting of votes, that is to say, voter
speaks out or expresses by casting vote. For this purpose,
information about the candidate to be selected is a must. Voter’s
(little man-citizen’s) right to know antecedents including criminal
past of his candidate contesting election for MP or MLA is much
more fundamental and basic for survival of democracy. The little
man may think over before making his choice of electing law-
breakers as law-makers.”
18) Thus, this Court held that a voter has the elementary right to know
full particulars of a candidate who is to represent him in the Parliament
and such right to get information is universally recognized natural right
flowing from the concept of democracy and is an integral part of Article
19(1)(a) of the Constitution. It was further held that the voter’s speech
or expression in case of election would include casting of votes, that is
to say, voter speaks out or expresses by casting vote. For this purpose,
information about the candidate to be selected is a must. Thus, in
unequivocal terms, it is recognized that the citizen’s right to know of the
candidate who represents him in the Parliament will constitute an integral
part of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India and any act, which is
derogative of the fundamental rights is at the very outset ultra vires.
19) With this background, Section 33A of the RP Act was enacted by Act 72
of 2002 with effect from 24.08.2002. Thus, the purpose of the Act 72 of
2002 was to effectuate the right contemplated in Association for Democratic
Reforms (supra). However, the legislators did not incorporate all the
suggestions as directed by this Court in the above case but for mandating
all the candidates to disclose the criminal antecedents under Section 33A
by filing an affidavit as prescribed along with the nomination paper filed
under Section 33(1) of the RP Act so that the citizens must be aware of the
criminal antecedents of the candidate before they can exercise their
freedom of choice by casting of votes as guaranteed under the Constitution
of India. As a result, at present, every candidate is obligated to file an
affidavit with relevant information with regard to their criminal
antecedents, assets and liabilities and educational qualifications.
20) Let us now test whether the filing of affidavit stating that the
information given in the affidavit is correct but leaving the contents
blank would fulfill the objective behind filing the same. The reply to this
question is a clear denial. The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit
along with the nomination paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of
the citizen under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The
citizens are required to have the necessary information at the time of
filing of the nomination paper in order to make a choice of their voting.
When a candidate files an affidavit with blank particulars, it renders the
affidavit itself nugatory.
21) For that purpose, the Returning Officer can very well compel a
candidate to furnish information relevant on the date of scrutiny. We were
appraised that the Election Commission already has a standard draft format
for reminding the candidates to file an affidavit as stipulated. We are of
the opinion that along with the above, another clause may be inserted for
reminding the candidates to fill the blanks with the relevant information
thereby conveying the message that no affidavit with blank particulars will
be entertained. We reiterate that it is the duty of the Returning Officer
to check whatever the information required is fully furnished at the time
of filing of affidavit with the nomination paper since such information is
very vital for giving effect to the ‘right to know’ of the citizens. If a
candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning
Officer, the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that
the power of Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper must be
exercised very sparingly but the bar should not be laid so high that the
justice itself is prejudiced.
22) We also clarify to the extent that in our coherent opinion the above
power of rejection by the Returning Officer is not barred by Para 73 of
People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) (supra) which reads as under:-
“73. While no exception can be taken to the insistence of affidavit
with regard to the matters specified in the judgment in Assn for
Democratic Reforms case, the direction to reject the nomination paper
for furnishing wrong information or concealing material information
and providing for a summary enquiry at the time of scrutiny of the
nominations, cannot be justified. In the case of assets and
liabilities, it would be very difficult for the Returning Officer to
consider the truth or otherwise of the details furnished with
reference to the ‘documentary proof’. Very often, in such matters the
documentary proof may not be clinching and the candidate concerned may
be handicapped to rebut the allegation then and there. If sufficient
time is provided, he may be able to produce proof to contradict the
objector’s version. It is true that the aforesaid directions issued by
the Election Commission are not under challenge but at the same time
prima facie it appears that the Election Commission is required to
revise its instructions in the light of directions issued in Assn for
Democratic Reforms case and as provided under the Representation of
the People Act and its third Amendment.”
23) The aforesaid paragraph, no doubt, stresses on the importance of
filing of affidavit, however, opines that the direction to reject the
nomination paper for furnishing wrong information or concealing material
information and providing for a summary inquiry at the time of scrutiny of
the nominations cannot be justified since in such matters the documentary
proof may not be clinching and the candidate concerned may be handicapped
to rebut the allegation then and there. This Court was of the opinion that
if sufficient time is provided, the candidate may be in a position to
produce proof to contradict the objector’s version. The object behind
penning down the aforesaid reasoning is to accommodate genuine situation
where the candidate is trapped by false allegations and is unable to rebut
the allegation within a short time. Para 73 of the aforesaid judgment
nowhere contemplates a situation where it bars the Returning Officer to
reject the nomination paper on account of filing affidavit with particulars
left blank. Therefore, we hereby clarify that the above said paragraph will
not come in the way of the Returning Officer to reject the nomination paper
if the said affidavit is filed with blank columns. The candidate must take
the minimum effort to explicitly remark as ‘NIL’ or ‘Not Applicable’ or
‘Not known’ in the columns and not to leave the particulars blank, if he
desires that his nomination paper be accepted by the Returning Officer.
24) At this juncture, it is vital to refer to Section 125A of the RP Act.
As an outcome, the act of failure on the part of the candidate to furnish
relevant information, as mandated by Section 33A of the RP Act, will result
in prosecution of the candidate. Hence, filing of affidavit with blank
space will be directly hit by Section 125A(i) of the RP Act. However, as
the nomination paper itself is rejected by the Returning officer, we find
no reason why the candidate must again be penalized for the same act by
prosecuting him/her.
25) If we accept the contention raised by Union of India, viz., the
candidate who has filed an affidavit with false information as well as the
candidate who has filed an affidavit with particulars left blank should be
treated at par, it will result in breach of fundamental right guaranteed
under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, viz., ‘right to know’, which is
inclusive of freedom of speech and expression as interpreted in Association
for Democratic Reforms (supra).
26) In succinct, if the Election Commission accepts the nomination papers
in spite of blank particulars in the affidavits, it will directly violate
the fundamental right of the citizen to know the criminal antecedents,
assets and liabilities and educational qualification of the candidate.
Therefore, accepting affidavit with blank particulars from the candidate
will rescind the verdict in Association for Democratic Reforms (supra).
Further, the subsequent act of prosecuting the candidate under Section
125A(i) will bear no significance as far as the breach of fundamental right
of the citizen is concerned. For the aforesaid reasons, we are unable to
accept the contention of the Union of India.
27) What emerges from the above discussion can be summarized in the form
of following directions:
(i) The voter has the elementary right to know full particulars of a
candidate who is to represent him in the Parliament/Assemblies and such
right to get information is universally recognized. Thus, it is held that
right to know about the candidate is a natural right flowing from the
concept of democracy and is an integral part of Article 19(1)(a) of the
Constitution.
(ii) The ultimate purpose of filing of affidavit along with the nomination
paper is to effectuate the fundamental right of the citizens under Article
19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. The citizens are supposed to have
the necessary information at the time of filing of nomination paper and for
that purpose, the Returning Officer can very well compel a candidate to
furnish the relevant information.
(iii) Filing of affidavit with blank particulars will render the affidavit
nugatory.
(iv) It is the duty of the Returning Officer to check whether the
information required is fully furnished at the time of filing of affidavit
with the nomination paper since such information is very vital for giving
effect to the ‘right to know’ of the citizens. If a candidate fails to fill
the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning Officer, the nomination
paper is fit to be rejected. We do comprehend that the power of Returning
Officer to reject the nomination paper must be exercised very sparingly but
the bar should not be laid so high that the justice itself is prejudiced.
(v) We clarify to the extent that Para 73 of People’s Union for Civil
Liberties case (supra) will not come in the way of the Returning Officer to
reject the nomination paper when affidavit is filed with blank particulars.
(vi) The candidate must take the minimum effort to explicitly remark as
‘NIL’ or ‘Not Applicable’ or ‘Not known’ in the columns and not to leave
the particulars blank.
(vii) Filing of affidavit with blanks will be directly hit by Section
125A(i) of the RP Act However, as the nomination paper itself is rejected
by the Returning Officer, we find no reason why the candidate must be again
penalized for the same act by prosecuting him/her.
28) The Writ Petition is disposed of with the above directions.
……….…………………………CJI.
(P. SATHASIVAM)
………….…………………………J.
(RANJANA PRAKASH DESAI)
………….…………………………J.
(RANJAN GOGOI)

NEW DELHI;
SEPTEMBER 13, 2013.

———————–
23

 

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