CORRUPT PRACTICES UNDER RPA (Syllabus: GS Paper 2 – Polity)

News-CRUX-10     13th April 2024        
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Context: The Supreme Court recently ruled that voters do not possess an absolute right to access all aspects of a candidate's private life, and candidates are not obligated to disclose every piece of movable property they own, unless its value constitutes a "sizable asset."

Corrupt Practices under the RPA

  • Definition under Section 123: "Corrupt practices" encompass bribery, undue influence, dissemination of false information, and incitement of hostility between different groups based on religion, race, caste, community, or language to further a candidate's electoral prospects.
  • Undue Influence under Section 123(2): It includes direct or indirect interference by the candidate, their agent, or any other person, with the free exercise of any electoral right. 
  • This interference could manifest as threats, social exclusion, or expulsion from social groups.
  • Religious or Spiritual Coercion: Convincing a candidate or elector that they will incur divine displeasure or spiritual censure for not supporting a particular candidate constitutes interference with their electoral rights.

Supreme Court's Interpretation

  • The Supreme Court, in a ruling on Kri's appeal against a High Court order, asserted that a candidate's right to privacy is not absolute but persists concerning matters irrelevant to their candidacy or not of concern to the electorate.

What was the petition?

  • Allegations of Suppressed Information: Opposition candidate, filed a petition against Karikho Kri, alleging that he suppressed material particulars in his election affidavit after winning the Tezu seat as an Independent.
  • Non-Disclosure of Vehicle Ownership: Candidate argued that Kri failed to disclose the ownership of vehicles, including his wife’s Maruti van, scooty, and his son’s motorcycle, in his election affidavit.
  • Grounds for Election Invalidation: Section 100(1)(b) permits election invalidation if "any corrupt practice has been committed by a returned candidate or his election agent or by any other person with the consent of a returned candidate or his election agent".
  • Material Effects on Election Results: Sections 100(1)(d)(i) and (iv) allow an HC to rule election results as "materially affected" due to "improper acceptance" of a nomination or non-compliance with constitutional provisions, the 1951 Act, or related rules and orders.
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