Kolkata : To prevent candidates from suppressing facts in their affidavits, the Election Commission has ruled that the nominees cannot leave any column of the form blank, a top electoral officer said here Monday.
But he made it clear that contestants cannot be barred from the poll fray for giving false information in the affidavit.
“The EC has come out with two advisories on candidates’ affidavits. Firstly, the affidavits have to be typed and not handwritten. This was done as a section of candidates in some states used to give handwritten affidavits, which were illegible,” said West Bengal Chief Electoral Officer Debasish Sen.
“Another problem was suppression of information by some candidates, who used to leave some of the columns blank. So, in another advisory, the EC has said none of the columns can be left vacant. The candidate has to write at least ‘nil’ or ‘not applicable’ in those columns in which he has nothing to add,” Sen said after inaugurating the state chapter of the National Election Watch.
But as per a Supreme Court ruling, candidature cannot be cancelled for giving false information or suppressing facts. “This is because the system of filing affidavit was introduced much after the electoral laws came into force”.
However, Sen said the affidavit serves as a moral tool, and a candidate can also be prosecuted in a court of law for supplying false information.
He said the EC was doing a vulnerability analysis of all the police station areas across the state to decide on the deployment of security forces and ensure peaceful and fair polls.
“The central observers will come in the next few days and review the situation in various areas,” he said.
Asked whether the EC was contemplating any steps to prevent criminals from contesting the polls, he said: “The commission has recommended some reforms for the long term. If the EC recommendations are implemented, the situation will be better.”
The West Bengal chapter of the National Election Watch was inaugurated by Sen along with its state unit chairman General (retd) Shankar Roychowdhury.