A false declaration of diploma by a candidate in the ballot can be a fraudulent practice: HC

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The Delhi High Court has ruled that misrepresentation of a candidate’s educational credentials can be considered a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act 1951.

The court said a simple reading of Section 123(4) of the Act shows that a corrupt practice included the publication of any false statement by a candidate regarding his candidacy, including information regarding his degree.

He said that while the Supreme Court has stated unambiguously that voters have a fundamental right to know the backgrounds of candidates, another chamber of the High Court has also ruled that the non-disclosure of credentials would constitute a fraudulent practice.

“A false statement made, as an educational qualification, may be subject to the four corners of Section 123(4) of the 1951 Act,” Judge Rajiv Shakdher said in a recent order passed as part of a plea by AAP MP Vishesh Ravi asking for rejection of BJP. electoral petition of candidate Yogender Chandolia, contesting his nomination.

Chandolia was competing against Ravi in ​​the last Delhi assembly elections.

“The phrase ‘in relation to candidacy’ should, in my view, include information regarding a candidate’s level of education, since the Supreme Court has stated unambiguously that voters have a fundamental right to know the background candidate,” he added.

In the election petition, the BJP candidate alleged that among other things, AAP MP for Karol Bagh concealed his degree in his nomination affidavit filed for last year’s assembly polls.

Ravi, in his argument, argued that the election petition should be dismissed as it did not disclose a cause of action.

The court declined to overrule the BJP candidate’s objections at this stage, as it observed that the election petition showed there were claims to demonstrate that the MP “took inconsistent positions regarding the highest degree ‘he had obtained’.

“It is found that according to Form 26 filed in 2013, Claimant/Respondent #1 (Ravi) claimed that he graduated with a B.Com in 2008 from CCS University, whereas in Form 26 filed in 2015, Claimant/Respondent No. 1 claimed that he was pursuing a BA (programme) from IGNOU, Delhi; which is also claimed to be the highest degree he attained at that time,” the court noted.

“Contradictingly, in Form 26 filed in 2020, Applicant/Respondent #1 claims his highest degree as Class X in 2003, via NIOS,” he said.

“Given the material on file, I cannot persuade myself that the mere fact that the result of the May 2002 academic examination for class X, concerning Claimant/Respondent No. 1, does not correspond to the assertion made in the petition that Applicant/Respondent #1 failed the Class X exam in 2003 would not be sufficient reason to dismiss the petition The allegations made in this regard should be read in their entirety and , therefore, the case, in my view, must go to trial,” the judge said.

In the order, the court also said the law requires a candidate to disclose prior convictions, including fines imposed, jail time served, acquittals and release, if any, at the trial stage. appointment, together with information about the pending criminal case where a person if found guilty, may be sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, although, when the charge is made or knowledge of it is taken by a court.

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