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EC Makes Norms for Publicity of Criminal Antecedents of Candidates During Electioneering Stringent

File Photo of Election Commission of India.

File Photo of Election Commission of India.

In October, 2018, the Election Commission (EC) had issued directions making it compulsory for candidates contesting elections and the parties fielding them to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.

Ahead of Bihar polls, the Election Commission on Friday made the norms of publicity of criminal antecedents of candidates stringent by putting a timeline on when such advertisements should be published and broadcast during electioneering.

In October, 2018, the Election Commission (EC) had issued directions making it compulsory for candidates contesting elections and the parties fielding them to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.

Now, the EC has made it clear that the first "publicity" of criminal records should be within first four days of the last date of withdrawal of candidature. It said the second publicity should be within fifth and eight day of the last date of withdrawal. The third and final publicity should be from ninth day till the last day of campaign — two days prior to polling day.

"This timeline will help the voters in exercising their choices in more informed manner," a statement by the Commission said. The poll panel also made it clear that uncontested winning candidates as well as the political parties who nominate them will also publicise the criminal antecedents, if any.

"All instructions, in this regard, must be complied by the contesting candidates with criminal antecedents and the political parties regarding their nominated candidates," it cautioned, adding that the fresh directions come into effect immediately. An EC official said the timeline would ensure that the advertisements attract the public eye. There was a feeling that candidates time the publicity of their criminal records in such a way that it fails to grab attention.

Candidates contesting the upcoming Bihar elections as well as those fighting 64 assembly bypolls and one Lok Sabha by-election in the coming days, will have to adhere to the new timeline while advertising their criminal antecedents. Following Supreme Court directions in February this year, the Election Commission had in March asked political parties to justify why they chose candidates with criminal history to contest elections, by filling up a form.

The parties thus have to now fill up a form to explain the reasons.

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