The government has rejected a proposal from the Election Commission (EC) to amend the Representation of the People Act to bar candidates from contesting parliamentary or assembly elections if they have not cleared their dues such as house rent in government accommodation, electricity and water bills.
The EC had in a communication to the law ministry requested amending the election laws to include failure to clear dues of public utilities as a disqualification from contesting Lok Sabha and assembly polls.
Barring candidates will require amendment to Chapter III of the RP Act which deals with electoral offences. A new clause will have to be inserted therein for disqualification “on the ground of being a defaulter of public dues”.
However, in its response to the election watchdog, the law ministry had said the proposal was “not desirable”.
According to the law ministry, the ban would not be desirable as the authority issuing no-dues certificate or no-objection certificate to a candidate could be biased and may not give the required papers.
The ministry also said in cases of dispute on the dues, the matter could be referred to a court and may take time to settle. In such cases, it would not be desirable to deny the candidate with the nodues certificate.
In July, 2015 the Delhi High Court had through an order asked the EC to “consider the possibility, if any, of putting any impediment to a defaulter of public dues contesting election, to ensure quick recovery of the said dues”.
Based on the judgment, the commission had recently made it mandatory for candidates contesting polls to furnish a ‘no-dues certificate’ from the agency providing electricity, water and telephone connections to their accommodation.