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Govt drops EC's proposal to disqualify poll candidates who don't pay dues

National, state parties were recently asked to submit an annual report, disclosing the status of unpaid bills related to house rent and electricity, among others

Press Trust of India  |  New Delhi 

bill payment, dues

The government has rejected an proposal to bar candidates, who have failed to clear dues such as government house rent, electricity and power bills, from contesting

The poll watchdog had written to the ministry urging it to amend election laws to include failure to clear dues of public utilities as a disqualification from contesting Lok Sabha and

According to the EC, barring candidates will require an amendment to the chapter-III of the 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".

But in its brief response sent to the in May, the ministry said the proposal is "not desirable", a senior functionary said.

The ministry feels that the ban would not be desirable as the authority issuing the no-dues certificate or the no-objection certificate to a candidate could be biased and may not give the required papers, the functionary said.

The ministry also felt that 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 no dues certificate.

The poll panel's move seeking change in election is the outcome of a July 2015 Delhi High Court order which had asked the to "also 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 judgement, 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.

In the recent assembly polls, some of the candidates could not file their nomination as they had not provided a 'no dues certificate', the then Chief Election Commissioner Nasim Zaidi had told PTI in March.

But the wanted a legal backing to bar people without a no dues certificate from contesting polls.

Based on the same judgement, the had recently asked all recognised and state parties to submit an annual report to the Commission declaring that there are no dues pending in the form of rent for occupying government premises, telephone, electricity and water bills.

The report for a particular financial year should be submitted to the Commission latest by June 30 of the following year.

First Published: Sun, October 08 2017. 13:53 IST