Days after the Supreme Court directed that political parties have to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites, the Election Commission has written to heads of recognised political parties saying that it has created a fund in which fines for contempt of court can be deposited for failing to comply with the apex court’s directions.
It also reminded the political parties that the Commission was directed by the apex court to carry out an extensive campaign to make every voter aware about his or her right to know and the availability of information regarding criminal antecedents of all contesting candidates.
For this purpose, a fund was to be created within four weeks.
The EC was also directed to create a separate cell which will also monitor the required compliances so that the court can be apprised promptly of non-compliance by any political party of the directions contained in the court’s orders.
The court had said that if such a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the EC, the poll panel will bring such non compliance by the political party to the notice of the court “as being in contempt of this court’s orders/directions, which shall in future be viewed very seriously”.
The letter sent out on August 26 said in compliance of the Supreme Court directions, the Election Commission has created the “fund” in which fines for contempt of court can be deposited.
It also gave out details f the bank account where such fines can be deposited.
On August 10, the Supreme Court had said that political parties have to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites.
The apex court had directed the Election Commission to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by the candidates regarding their criminal antecedents so that voter gets information on his or her mobile phone at one stroke.
A bench of justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai passed these directions in its verdict on a plea seeking contempt action against several political parties including the BJP and the Indian National Congress for non-compliance of its February 13, 2020 directions during Bihar assembly polls last year.
The bench modified one of its earlier directions given in its February last year order on furnishing of details about the criminal antecedents of candidates.
“We clarify that the direction in paragraph 4.4 of our order dated February 13, 2020 be modified and it is clarified that the details which are required to be published, shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate and not prior to two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations,” it said.
It also directed the EC to carry out an extensive awareness campaign to make every voter aware about his right to know and the availability of information regarding criminal antecedents of all contesting candidates.
The apex court held several political parties guilty of its contempt in 2020 Bihar assembly polls for disobeying an order requiring them to publish antecedents of candidates within 48 hours of selection or not less than two weeks before filing of nominations and imposed varying fines on them.
It directed that fine imposed for contempt of court in the matter may be directed to be paid in the fund which must be created within four weeks.
In its February last year verdict aimed at decriminalising Indian politics, the apex court had directed the political parties to upload on their websites and social media platforms the details of pending criminal cases against their candidates and the reasons for selecting them as also for not giving ticket to those without criminal antecedents.