Modern states creates among its citizens a sense of involvement and participation in public affairs through a device called Election. There was an era when the elites came into power despite the resistance of the weaker sections of the society. Except to weep and bear the atrocities, they did not have any choice of selecting their ruler. To a large extent, such status quo does not prevail today. Now, voters opt for rulers of their choice after verifying full details thereof. Is there any necessity of keeping the voters in dark about the details of candidates? In a vibrant democracy, a voter is required to know bio-data of his would be Rulers. In Union of India v. Association for democratic reforms, Supreme Court has directed that the candidates has to furnish information regarding their educational qualifications, involvement in criminal cases, assets and liabilities. Similarly, under Article 324 of the Constitution of India, the Election Commission is directed to call for information on affidavit from each candidate seeking election to Parliament or State legislature to furnish about his educational qualification, involvement in criminal cases, assets and liabilities as a part of his nomination paper. Any false concealment of the information regarding the educational qualification shall invoke Section 125A and Section 75A (5) of the Act, which creates an offence punishable by imprisonment for six months or fine for failure to furnish affidavit in accordance with S.33A, as well as for falsity or concealment in affidavit or nomination paper as well as willful contravention of Rules regarding asset disclosure may be treated as breach of privilege of the House. It was also observed by the Supreme Court that the disclosure of information regarding educational qualifications of a candidate is not an essential component of the right to information flowing from Article 19(1) (a). By not providing for disclosure of educational qualifications, it cannot be said it is a violation of Article 19(1) (a). In an ultimate analysis the information regarding educational qualification is not a vital and useful piece of information to the voter.

The Supreme Court has taken a paradigm shift with regard to the educational qualification of the Candidates with its recent judgement, where it casts duty upon the Candidates to furnish correct information about their educational qualification. It is also evident from Rule and Form 26 of the Act that every voter has a fundamental right to know the educational qualification of the Candidate. Even if it is found in later stage that a candidate has concealed his educations details, the election can be declared as void. There is a compulsion on the candidates that all information about a candidate, who contest in election must be available in public domain as exposure to public scrutiny was one of the means to cleanse the democratic governing system and have competent legislators. This could ensure transparency and better way of governance.

Rini Mathew

Student, School of Law, SASTRA University