News Excerpt
As part of efforts help the voters in exercising their choices in a more informed manner and discourage political parties from fielding persons with criminal antecedents in the election, the Election Commission issued revised guidelines for publishing such antecedents in the newspapers and television.

Pre-Connect
•    In October, 2018, EC had issued directions making it compulsory for candidates contesting elections and the parties fielding them to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.
•    A Compendium of all instructions and formats issued so far, regarding the timelines forpublicity of criminal antecedents, is being published for the benefit of stakeholders.
•    It will be helpful in creating more awareness amongst the voters and other stakeholders.
•    All instructions, in this regard, must be complied by the contesting candidates with criminal antecedents and the political parties regarding their nominated candidates.
•    Commission has always emphasised on this moral yardstick for overall betterment of electoral democracy.
•    The modified instructions applied with immediate effect.
•    In consequence, candidates contesting the upcoming Bihar elections as well as those fighting 64 assembly by polls and one Lok Sabha by-election in the coming days will have to adhere to the new timeline while advertising their criminal antecedents.


Highlights
A.   Revised Timeline for Publicity
Candidates as well as the political parties, regarding candidates nominated by them, will publish the details of criminal antecedents, if any, in newspapers and television in following manner:
I publicity:Within first 4 days of last date of withdrawal.
II publicity:Within 5th to 8th day of last date of withdrawal
III publicity:From 9th day till the last day of campaign, i.e. two days prior to date of poll.
B.  Publicity for Uncontested Winning Candidates
The uncontested winner candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them shall also publicise the criminal antecedents, if any, as prescribed for other contesting candidates and political parties.

Supreme Court Directives
    In February this year, the Supreme Court had ordered all political parties to publish the criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections.
    The Apex Court directed that it shall be mandatory for political parties to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases who have been selected as candidates, along with the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.
    The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere ‘winnability’ at the polls,” the court had ordered.
    The EC had welcomed the move and issued notification in this regard.

Conclusion
The move is significant because the new guidelines will now mean that the declaration by candidates with criminal antecedents will have to spread over three rounds of publicity beginning with soon after filing nomination and ending towards the end of campaign period. EC felt in absence of detailed timelines, candidates had the option of clubbing publicity of such records.

PEPPER IT WITH
Art. 324&326, Salient Features of Representation of the People’s Act, 1951