False Declaration about Candidate’s Educational Qualification can be brought under Sec – 123 (4) Representation of People Act: Delhi High Court

Team SoOLEGAL 28 Dec 2021 2:14pm

False Declaration about Candidate’s Educational Qualification can be brought under Sec – 123 (4) Representation of People Act: Delhi High Court

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court has ruled that a candidate’s fraudulent claim about educational qualifications can be brought within the four corners of Section – 123(4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951.

Section 123(4) of the Act states, “The publication by a candidate or his agent or by any other person with the consent of a candidate or his election agent,, of any statement of fact which is false, and which he wither believes to be false or does not believe to be true, in relation to the personal character or conduct of any candidate or in relation to the candidature, or withdrawal, of any candidate, being a statement reasonably calculate to prejudice the prospects of that candidate’s election.”

“The expression ‘in relation to candidature’ should, in my view, include information concerning the educational qualification of a candidate, since the Supreme Court has unambiguously held that voters have the fundamental right to know the antecedents of the candidate. If a false declaration is made, qua educational qualification can be brought within the four corners of Section 123(4) of the 1951 Act,” Justice Rajiv Shakdher observed.

The Court ruling on whether educational qualifications came under the purview of Section – 123 (4) of the 1951 Act, which specified certain acts are regarded corrupt for the purposes of the Act. The remark was made while dealing with an application submitted by Vishesh Ravi, an MLA from the Aam Aadmi Party and one of the respondents in an election case brought by Yogender Chandolia from the Bhartiya Janta Party.

The application was filed on the grounds that the election petition, read in its whole along with the papers presented, did not disclose a cause of action and hence should be denied. The petitioner made complaints against the applicant about his election from the Karol Bagh seat on February 08th, 2020.

The first complaint was that Ravi said in his affidavit filed in Form – 26 along with his nomination that he had a 10th grade education, which Chandolia claimed was untrue. Second, it was claimed that there was no disclosure on the status of the Form – 26 First Information Report filed against him. The question before the Court was thus whether the election petition should be dismissed without a trial.

On the question of whether Ravi was required to disclose information about his educational qualifications and his involvement in a criminal case, the Court held that a candidate who files his nomination is required to disclose his educational qualifications as well as his previous convictions, including fines imposed, imprisonments suffered, acquittals or discharge.

The Court said, “Disclosure qua the aforesaid is in addition to the disclosure of information qua pending criminal case where a person if convicted, can be sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, albeit, where charge is framed or cognizance is taken by the Court of law, and information concerning the candidate’s assets including those of the spouse and dependents as also liabilities, particularly, those related to the Government or Public Institutes.”

The Court further stated that if a candidate is suspected of an offense punishable by imprisonment for two years or more and a charge is prepared or cognizance is accepted by a Court of law, the same must be reported within six months of submitting a nomination. Concerning educational criteria, the Court stated:
“Given the material on record, I am unable to persuade myself that merely because the May 2002 Academic Examination Result for Class 10, concerning the applicant/respondent no. 1, does not align with the assertion made in the petition that the application/respondent no. 1 did not pass the examination of Class 10th in 2003 would not be a good enough reason to reject the petition. The averments made in this behalf to be read in their entirety, and therefore, the matter, in my view, needs to be tried.”

As a result, the Court gave the petitioner permission to file a new affidavit in Form – 252 within fifteen days.

“While doing so, the petitioner will bear in mind the requirements captured in Form – 25, vis – a – via verification of the particulars of the corrupt practice required to be clearly in the affidavit, the parts which are true to his knowledge and those which are based on information,” the Cout said.

In dismissing the aforementioned motion, the Court stated that it was not inclined to reject the election petition at this time. The matter is currently scheduled for issue framing on February, 25th, 2022.

Tagged: Delhi High Court   False Declaration   Educational Qualification   People Act   Justice Rajiv Shakdher  
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