Seeking to tighten the noose around those filing false information in poll affidavits, the Election Commission on Tuesday decided to refer cases of "serious omission" by candidates to investigating authorities on a case-to-case basis.
At its meeting, the commission decided to "robustly address" the "challenge" of false information in election affidavits "to further ensure free, fair and ethical elections in the country".
In a statement, the commission said it has been receiving complaints regarding false information in affidavits filed by some candidates.
At present, one has to file such complaints in a court under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 for necessary action.
"Now, the commission has reviewed this position and decided that, in pursuit of a level-playing field, it will take cognisance of complaints, which indicate serious omission on the part of the candidate, and refer such matters to the relevant investigating authorities on a case-to-case basis," it said. People can still approach courts with their complaints on such matters.
The poll panel had a couple of years ago told the Supreme Court that under Section 125A of the Representation of the People Act, the total punishment for filing a false affidavit at the time of filing nomination is six months, or fine or both.
It had said the punishment is well short of the requirement of minimum of two years of sentence for attracting disqualification under Section 8A of the election law.
As a part of electoral reforms, the poll panel had recommended to the central government in 2011 to amend Section 125A of the Act and enhance the sentence for filing a false affidavit to two years. The matter has been pending with the Union Law Ministry.