|Case Name||Krishnamoorthy vs Sivakumar & Others|
|Case Number||Civil Appeal No 1478 of 2015|
|Court||Supreme Court of India|
|Bench||Justice Dipak Mishra, Justice Prafulla Pant|
|Author of the judgment||Justice Dipak Mishra|
|Decided On||21 January 2015|
|Relevant Act/Sections||The Representation of People Act, 1951- Section 100
Indian Penal Code, 1860- Section 171C
Constitution of India – Article 19(1)(a)
|Author of the case brief||Aditya Gor|
In the present case, an emphasis has been laid down to recognize the ideal of eradication of criminalisation of politics and corruption in public life.
As per the facts, Tamil Nadu State Election Commission (TNSEC) had issued a notification wherein it was stipulated that the candidates willing to stand for election were required to furnish complete details mentioned in the paragraphs stipulated therein at the time of filing the nomination. The appellant had filed a declaration and the affidavit only mentioning Crime No 10 of 2001 and did not mention the details of the charge sheets filed against him which were pending trial.
In this backdrop, an election petition was filed to declare his election as null and void on the ground that he could not have contested the election, and in any case, the election was unsustainable. Thus the validity of the election was called in question on the sole ground that he had filed a false declaration suppressing the details of criminal cases pending trial against him and, therefore, his nomination deserved to be rejected by the Returning Officer.
The petitioner, after ascertaining several other facts, also pleaded that the 1st respondent had deliberately suppressed material facts which if declared would enable his nomination papers being rejected. That apart, an emphasis was also laid on the fact that the elected candidate had not declared the particulars regarding the criminal cases pending against him.
The Principal District Judge of Coimbatore, the Election Tribunal, adverted to the allegations and came to a conclusion that nomination papers filed by the appellant, the first respondent to the Election Petition, deserved to be rejected and, therefore, he could not have contested the election, and accordingly he declared the election as null and void and ordered for re-election of the post of the President in question. The High Court held on the same terms that the candidate had not disclosed the full and complete information.
The issue to be decided in this appeal was “Whether, before casting votes, voters have a right to know relevant particulars of their candidates?”
The Court observed that Freedom of speech and expression includes right to impart and receive information which includes freedom to hold opinions.
In an election petition challenging the validity of an election of a particular candidate, the statutory provisions would govern respective rights of the parties. However, voters’ fundamental right to know the antecedents of a candidate is independent of statutory rights under the election law for a voter is first a citizen of this country and apart from statutory rights, he has the fundamental right to know and be informed. 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 observed by the Court that 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. If a candidate fails to fill the blanks even after the reminder by the Returning Officer, the nomination paper is fit to be rejected. The object is to prevent criminalisation of politics and maintain probity in elections. Any provision enacted with a view to promote this object must be welcomed and upheld as subserving the constitutional purpose.
Thus, a candidate is bound to provide the necessary information at the time of filing nomination paper and for the said purpose, the Returning Officer can compel the candidate to furnish the relevant information and if a candidate files an affidavit with a blank particulars would render the affidavit nugatory.
Moreover, in the context of criminal antecedents, the failure to disclose the particulars of any charges framed, cognizance taken, or conviction for any offence that involves moral turpitude would constitute an act that causes undue influence upon the voters. It would have an impact on the voters as they would not be in a position to know about his antecedents and ultimately their choice would be affected. Reference here was also made to Section 171-C of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The voter has the choice of deciding whether the holding of educational qualification or holding of property is relevant for electing or re-electing a person to be his representative. The voter has to decide whether he should cast vote in favour of a candidate who is involved in a criminal case. For maintaining the purity of elections and a healthy democracy, voters are required to be educated and well informed about the contesting candidates.
In view of the aforesaid analysis, the Court dismissed the appeal and affirmed the decision of the High Court whereby it had given the stamp of approval to the order of Election Tribunal setting aside the appellants election.