Goa Chief Electoral Officer Kunal has directed Returning Officers (ROs)/Magistrates in Goa to monitor compliance of criminal record publicity by two candidates in Goa Assembly by-polls, belonging to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP).
This direction comes following a complaint by Delhi-based election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms(ADR) that two candidates contesting in Goa’s State Legislative Assembly by-polls need to comply with publicity in newspapers about the criminal record submitted by them in their affidavits while filing nominations.
The body which works for transparency and reforms in electoral democracy, which scrutinises affidavits filed by candidates in elections for their financial information and criminal records as part of voter awareness, had earlier emailed the CEO, Goa about NCP candidate Sanjay Barde in Mapusa and on Friday about Yogesh Khandeparkar, Shiroda candidate of AAP, who has a serious criminal case under Section 354 of Indian Penal code and Section 8 of Goa Children’s Act, 2003 relating to sexual abuse and outraging modesty.
Goa convenor of ADR Bhaskar Assoldekar told The Hindu on Friday that both the candidates need to release advertisements in prominent newspapers three times before election date besides, their respective political parties, NCP and AAP to update their websites with this information on criminal records of their candidates as per Supreme Court order dated September 25, 2018 and subsequent directives from Election Commission of India (ECI) to CEOs of States and Union Territories.
ADR in its e-mail complaint to Goa CEO has pointed out that Barde’s affidavit submitted with nomination disclosed pending criminal cases and convictions.
The criminal case pending against him was in a Judicial Magistrate First Class Court in Mapusa under the negotiable instruments Act for dishonour of cheque and he has been convicted by the said court.
When contacted for his response, Mr. Kunal, CEO Goa told The Hindu that he has forwarded the complaints about both the candidates to respective Collectors/ROs to ensure that the candidates and their respective political parties monitor the compliance and in case they fail to comply three days ahead of election, on the first day of the breach itself they will be communicating it to the ECI for further action.
This rule of publicity of criminal antecedents is being implemented for the first time across the country by the ECI in the elections to ensure that good candidates go before the electorate and as part of ensuring transparency about candidates before the electorate ahead of polls.