EC wants public dues defaulters barred from contesting polls

NEW DELHI
5 Mar 2017

The Election Commission wants laws to be changed so that it can disqualify from contesting polls the candidates who do not clear their water and power bills.
It has asked the Union law ministry to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951, so that such defaulters can be barred from contesting Lok Sabha and Assembly polls. According to the poll panel, it will require amendment to the chapter-III of the R P Act which deals with electoral offences. A new clause will have to be inserted therein for disqualification "on the ground of being a defaulter of public dues". The issue is pending with the government.
In an August, 2015 order, the Delhi High Court had asked the Commission to ensure that candidates contesting Lok Sabha and Assembly elections furnish a 'no dues certificate' from the agency providing electricity, water and telephone connections to their accommodation. Since February, 2016, the Commission had been insisting on an additional affidavit in the prescribed format along with the 'No Demand Certificate' from the agencies providing these services.
A 'no rent due' certificate is also required in case the candidate had been occupying government accommodation during the 10 years leading to the polls. The Delhi High Court, while delivering the verdict, had said that those wanting to contest elections will clear their dues after the order. In March 2016, when the EC had met political parties here to discuss electoral reforms, it was told that the 'no dues certificate' for candidates was leading to corruption as bribes were being allegedly paid to obtain it.
Recently, the Commission had proposed that political parties, as a pre-condition for fielding candidates, furnish affidavit stating that they have not defaulted on dues on account of usages of public utilities.