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Voters must have ‘proper information’ about criminal antecedents of candidates: SC

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Supreme Court of India

New Delhi, Aug 28 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday favoured “proper” dissemination of information about criminal antecedents, if any, of the candidates being fielded by the political parties to contest elections to Parliament or state assemblies, so that voters can make a informed choice while exercising their franchise.

“Right to information (about the criminal antecedents of the candidates) means right to proper information,” said Chief Justice Dipak Misra, heading the five-judge constitution bench as it reserved its verdict on a plea by NGO Public Interest Foundation seeking to bar people from electoral politics against whom charges have been framed by trial courts for heinous offences.

“We can’t make a law or do indirectly what we can’t do directly. We will only see if we can do anything on disclosure (of criminal antecedents). We will see if we can add to the disclosure so that people make a well-informed choice at polling booth. Let people judge,” said Chief Justice Misra.

Making it clear that they would not issue any direction to the Centre for enacting a law to bar from the electoral arena the people charged with heinous crimes, the constitution bench said that the focus should be on the dissemination of information about the criminal antecedents of the candidates enabling voters to make an informed choice.

Besides Chief Justice Misra, other judges on the constitution bench are Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra.

The court said this as Attorney General K.K. Venugopal reiterated the Central government’s position that law making was within the exclusive domain of the legislature and “what court can’t do directly (asking legislature to enact a law), it can’t do indirectly.”

The Attorney General said this as in the last hearing of the matter on August 21, the top court had asked the government if it could direct the Election Commission to include in the symbol order a clause that a political party is liable to lose its recognition if it fields candidates with criminal antecedents.

Summing up the submission by the AG, Justice Nariman said that according to AG, the court cannot add or subtract any new qualification or disqualification to what is already contemplated in the Constitution or the statute (Representation of People Act).

As the hearing today got focused on making voters sufficiently informed about the criminal antecedents of the candidate, the court also sought to know the possibility of people being made aware of the criminal antecedents, if any, of the candidates at a pre-nomination stage.

“We want to put it at the stage of pre-nomination,” said CJI Misra, also observing if political parties should themselves disclose that the candidate they have selected faces criminal charges.

“Why not party make public that the candidate fielded by it suffers from such charges,” observed CJI.

The court’s observation came as senior counsel Meenakshi Arora appearing for the Election Commission said that the disclosure of the criminal cases is made only at the time of nomination and it leaves public little time to know about it.

She said that the Election Commission had made the recommendation to eject a candidate from electoral fray after the framing of charges way back in 1997, which was reiterated in 1999 and subsequently, but nothing moved.

Justice Chandrachud disagreed with senior counsel Krishnan Venugopal, saying that people preferred voting candidate with criminal background because they feel that such a representative will do something by bending laws and help them in distress situation.

“It is not necessary that they want to vote for such a candidate,” observed Justice Chandrachud.

Another counsel Gopal Shankaranarayanan told the court that a candidate with criminal background should disclose in his every publicity material that he would use or circulate during electioneering.

Election

2019 Lok Sabha elections: EC to announce poll schedule in March 1st Week

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Election Commission

New Delhi, Jan 18: The Election Commission of India to announce the 2019 Lok Sabha election schedule in the first week of March, news agency ANI reported citing sources.

The election would be held in 6 to 7 phases.

WeForNews

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AAP irrelevant, we want to win all 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi: Sheila Dikshit

I will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory

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sheila dikshit arvind kejriwal

New Delhi, Jan 16 : Inducted as Delhi Congress President ahead of the crucial Lok Sabha elections, Sheila Dikshit says her target is to win all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.

The 80-year-old leader, who assumed office as the Delhi Congress chief on Wednesday, said she will mobilise all workers and leaders for the party’s victory.

She said her target is “to get Congress active and get all Congressmen together.”

Asked about her target for the Lok Sabha elections, she said: “I hope to win all the seven. We will target all the seven and then see”.

Array

Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with Former Delhi Congress chief Ajay Maken during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. (Photo: IANS)

Asked when the party will declare its candidates as the AAP has sounded its potential candidates and the BJP already has sitting MPs in all the seven seats, she hoped that the candidates will be decided soon. “Let’s see when the high command announces.”

Dikshit said she is not in favour of an alliance with the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the capital and prefers that the party go it alone.

However, at the same time she also does not rule out a tie up with the AAP.

“No, I am not in favour of it (alliance with AAP),” she told IANS.

“The Aam Aadmi Party is not a very polished party. For instance why did they do all that …Rajiv Gandhi having got the award (Bharat Ratna). What have they got to do with it. They never gave the award 22 years ago. Why did they pick it up? They just pick up things. I don’t think they think before what they are doing,” the three-time chief minister of Delhi said when she was asked about the reasons for not going for an alliance with the AAP.

“Anyway, for me, I mean they are the ruling party of Delhi so that relevance is there but otherwise they are an irrelevant party.”

Asked if the AAP was in touch with the party’s central leadership, she said: “No, not with us in anyway. I don’t think so.”

Pressed further on the issue, Dikshit said she had no idea. “Nobody has spoken about it.”

Asked if she had conveyed her viewpoint to the central leadership, Dikshit said she had given her views in the media.

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Veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit with party leaders Ajay Maken, Meira Kumar and Harun Yusuf during a programme where she took charge as the party’s Delhi unit chief in New Delhi, on Jan 16, 2019. Also seen . (Photo: IANS)

“I have conveyed to all of you so everybody knows my viewpoint. It has been there for a long time.”

Asked if she was ruling out an alliance with the AAP, she said: At the moment there is no alliance with AAP, and let’s see what happens in future.”

To a follow up question on when the uncertainty will end, she smiled and refused to comment.

She rejected apprehensions that the Congress and the AAP fighting separately will give an advantage to the BJP in Delhi.

“Why, why, why…No. We are strong enough ourselves, please remember. We are older than the BJP and much older than the AAP. No thank you…No, there is no need (to align).”

To a query whether she had given her feedback to the party, Dikshit said, “Not yet,” and added that she will be doing so as soon as she was asked by the leadership.

Asked if potential candidates have been sounded out, she said “everybody is working, everybody has got their mind on it and we have to meet and bring (it) to each other’s attention.”

Asked about her being made PCC chief only three months before the polls and if it should have been done earlier, Dikshit said: “What has happened has happened. You make the best of what has happened.”

She said the party not having declared its candidates so far does not matter. “The God made the whole world in seven days and surely we can do this (declare candidates).”

However, she refused to spell out her party’s strategy. “I won’t tell you just now. I will bring the strategy which is implementable. So let me just study it.”

She said the workers were motivated and the ground work was visible for the last-three four days.

Asked who was the main challenger between the AAP and the BJP in Delhi, she said they both were a challenge.

“I think at the national level, if you are looking at their presence, then the BJP is.”

Asked if Rahul Gandhi was relying on the old guard having appointed Kamal Nath chief minister in Madhya Pradesh, Ashok Gehlot in Rajasthan and Bhupesh Baghel in Chhattisgarh, Dikshit did not give a direct answer.

“I wouldn’t say. This is a question you need to ask Rahulji. I don’t make assessments on appointments, they have been made, they have been made.”

Dikshit admitted that there was some factionalism in the Delhi unit and said it will be addressed.

“There is… wherever there are 20…there are hundreds of people in the Congress, there is bound to be a faction. It is not something that cannot be overcome for a particular cause,” she said.

“The challenge is to face the forthcoming elections to the Lok Sabha and the challenge that is consistent with that is to keep the party together. All of us not to show our differences of opinion if we have any. Carry on what the leaders (say) so that we are seen as a joint organisation working for the good of the Congress,” she said.

Dikshit said she will campaign for the Congress in Uttar Pradesh if asked to, “but I will focus more on Delhi as there is a lot of work here.”

Asked about the dim possibility of a grand alliance shaping up in Delhi, she said: “You all bring a time limit saying do it now or tomorrow. In politics there is no time limit. It depends on the opportunities and atmosphere that is there and then we take decisions.”

She said that both national and local issues will be highlighted in Delhi during the campaign.

Dikshit said the party will highlight the development work done during her 15 years as chief minister. “Obviously, those works were done by Congress and we will surely highlight those works.”

On the recurrent confrontation between the AAP government in Delhi with the BJP-led central government, Dikshit said she had worked smoothly as Chief Minister with the Vajpayee government.

“It is for them to understand whether confrontation brings out work,” she said.

(Anand Singh can be contacted at [email protected] and Prashant Sood at [email protected])

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AAP to fight Lok Sabha polls in UP, Kejriwal won’t contest

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ARVIND KEJRIWAL

Varanasi, Jan 13 : The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday said it will contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections from Uttar Pardesh but unlike last time, party chief Arvind Kejriwal will not be its face from Varanasi.

Speaking to IANS, AAP MP Sanjay Singh said the details of the seats and candidates would be finalised by February-end.

“The party or Kejriwal never said that he is going to contest the Lok Sabha elections. He is Delhi’s Chief Minister and he has no plans to join the electoral race in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections,” Singh said.

“The party will field candidates in the Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh from the areas where the organisation is strong. The details of seats and candidates will be announced by February-end,” he added.

Singh on Sunday concluded his two-day “Bhajpa Bhagao, Bhagwan Bachao Yatra” in Varanasi.

The Yatra, which started from Ayodhya on Saturday, was organised to “expose” the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on various issues. He also sough to highlight that hundreds of Shivlingas were allegedly found lying under the rubble of structures demolished to pave way for the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor — a pet project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his parliamentary constituency.

The AAP has announced that it will focus on Delhi, Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Goa in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, Kejriwal contested face from Varanasi against BJP candidate and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Kejriwal lost the elections by over three lakh votes.

IANS

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