New Delhi, Nov 2, 2016: The Supreme Court pronounced on Tuesday that the voters have a right to know about the educational qualification of a candidate who is contesting elections and any false declaration on this count could set aside the nomination papers of the contestant.
The verdict came when a bench of Justice AR Dave and Justice L Nageswara Rao quashed the election of Manipur Congress MLA, Mairembam Prithviraj, for falsely declaring in his nomination papers that he had an MBA degree.
The court held that the right to vote would be meaningless unless citizens were well-informed about the antecedents of candidates, including their educational qualification.
However, the Bench also ruled that if there are only two candidates in the fracas and it is proved that the returned candidate’s nomination papers have been “improperly accepted”, then the one who lost the poll does not need to produce proof that the election has been materially affected.
There is no dispute that an election cannot be set aside on the ground of improper acceptance of any nomination without a pleading and proof that the result of the returned candidate was materially affected.
The Bench did not allow the plea of the losing candidate that he be declared the winner of the election of the returned candidate has been declared void.
It would be interesting to see if the current ruling by apex court would invite another “petition” to challenge the Delhi Court’s judgement regarding the fake degree row of Union Minister of Textiles Smriti Irani. The Delhi court recently dismissed the fake degree case against Smriti Irani and said the case was filed to needlessly harass her.
The judegment was made highlighting lack of evidence. However it was on record online that Irani in her affidavit for April 2004 Lok Sabha polls mentioned that she completed her BA in 1996 from DU. In her another nomination dating 11 July, 2011, for Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, she mentioned that her highest educational qualification was B.Com Part I from DU.