The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Election Commission against the order imposing a penalty on the Bharatiya Janata Party for not publishing criminal antecedents of candidates who contested the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections, reported Live Law.
A bench of Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and BR Gavai was hearing a review petition filed by BJP General Secretary BL Santosh against the order passed in August 2021 that had imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on the party for not following the directions to publish the criminal antecedents of candidates.
Advocate KV Vishwanathan, who had assisted the court in the matter as amicus curiae, had said that while giving reasons for selecting candidates, the BJP had downplayed the seriousness of offences charged against them, reported Bar and Bench.
Some of the candidates who contested the elections on party ticket were charged under Section 386 (extortion) and Section 506 (criminal intimidation) of the Indian Penal Code. The offences were portrayed as being cases that were of a trivial nature in the Supreme Court, Vishwanathan had said.
Besides BJP, a fine of Rs 5 lakh each was imposed on the Communist Party of India( Marxist) and Nationalist Congress Party, while a fine of Rs 1 lakh each was imposed on the Congress, Janta Dal (United), Rashtriya Janata Dal, Communist Party of India and Lok Janshakti Party.
The 2021 judgement pronounced by Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai had also included directions to make the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful.
The order had directed the Election Commission to carry out an extensive awareness campaign through social media, television advertisements, news channels, for voters to know their right to information regarding criminal antecedents of all contesting candidates.
The judgement had also directed political parties to upload information about their candidates with criminal backgrounds on their websites, in newspapers and on social media. The information was to include nature of the crime, whether charges have been framed, reasons on why each candidate is being fielded for elections.
At Friday’s hearing, BJP leader’s counsel argued that subsequent orders since August 2021 have said that reasons for selection of candidates are not necessary, reported Bar and Bench. The counsel argued that after details of a candidate are brought to the notice of the electorate, it is for them to decide on how they will vote.