Do voters have right to know about their candidates?
It is now common knowledge that there is criminalization of politics in India. It is a matter of great concern that anti-social and criminals are seeking to enter the political arena through the mechanism of elections to State Legislatures and even to Parliament. Parliament has not yet been able to enact a law to uproot the evil. The Delhi High Court has sought to cleanse the electoral process through the mechanism of the right to know of the people. The Delhi High Court in Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms has ruled that from every candidate for election, the Election Commission shall secure for the voters the following information:
- Whether the candidate is accused of any offence punishable with imprisonment.
- Assets possessed by the candidate, his or her spouse and dependent children.
- Facts denoting the candidate’s competence and suitability for being a parliamentarian. This should include the candidate’s educational qualification
- Any other relevant information regarding candidates’ competence to be a Member of Parliament or State Legislature.
The Supreme Court also agreed to the Delhi High Court decision. The Apex Court has upheld the right of a voter to know about the antecedents of his candidate as a part of his Fundamental Right under Article 19 (1)(a).