Non-disclosure of information and filing of falsities in election affidavits can’t be treated equally
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Non-disclosure of information and filing of falsities in election affidavits can’t be treated equally

By Indian Express   11-May-2019

Non-disclosure of information and filing of falsities in election affidavits can’t be treated equally

On April 15, 2019, a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed in the Supreme Court against Prime Minister Narendra Modi for filing a false affidavit. The petitioner, Saket Gokhale, a former journalist, has alleged irregularities regarding a plot of land, which, as per the land records, still belongs to the PM — but it has been omitted from his recent election affidavits. Recently, Union minister Smriti Irani was accused of falsifying her educational records in her affidavit.

Surprisingly, despite the upsurge in the number of complaints of false affidavits, we are yet to see any strict action taken in this regard. Hence, it is important to look into the law governing false affidavits under the under the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 (“RPA”) and examine its effectiveness in curbing this malpractice.
Section 33 of the RPA, read with Rule 4A of the Conduct of the Election Rules, mandates all candidates contesting national/state assembly elections to furnish an affidavit comprising basic information such as their assets, liabilities, educational qualifications and criminal antecedents (if any). Failure to furnish information or filing false information in the affidavit is a penal offence under Section 125A of the RPA which prescribes a penalty of maximum six months or fine or both. However, unlike conviction for offences like bribery, conviction under Section 125A does not result in disqualification of candidate.

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