NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday listed for hearing on March 14 a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against the Centre and the Election Commission (EC) for alleged violation of the apex court’s September 25, 2018 judgment directing all candidates to declare their criminal antecedents to the poll panel before contesting elections.

A five-judge Constitution bench had in September last year unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the EC before contesting polls and had called for wider publicity, through print and electronic media about the antecedents of candidates.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi listed the contempt petition filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay for hearing before an appropriate bench on March 14.

The bench also comprising justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjiv Khanna directed that a copy of the petition be served to the secretary of the poll panel to ensure their representation at the next hearing before an appropriate bench.

“List the matter on March 14 before the appropriate bench as per the roster. A copy of the contempt petition be served on the Secretary of the Election Commission of India to ensure due representation in Court on the date fixed,” the bench said.

The EC had on October 10 last year issued notification regarding amended Form-26 and directions to political parties and candidates for publication of criminal antecedents.

However, the plea filed by Upadhyay alleges that the EC neither amended the Election Symbol Order 1968 nor the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) so the said notification has no legal sanction.

“On October 10, 2018, the ECI issued direction to political parties and candidates for publication of criminal antecedents without amending the Election Symbol Order & Model Code of Conduct so the direction has no legal sanction,” the plea said.

It also said that the ECI did not publish list of leading newspapers-news channels nor clarified the timing for declaration of criminal antecedents by candidates which led to the candidates publishing them in unpopular newspapers and news channels during odd hours.

“It (ECI) had not published list of leading newspapers-news channels, so candidates published criminal antecedents in unpopular newspapers-news channels. ECI has not clarified the timing of publication, so candidates published criminal history in odd hours when people don’t watch news channels. Political parties had neither published the details on website nor in newspapers or news channels during assembly elections, but the ECI did nothing against them,” the plea alleged.

“On March 10, the ECI announced the dates of General Election without amending the Election Symbol Order & Model Code of Conduct, which is essential for compliance of Judgment dated 25.9.2018 hence petitioner is filing the contempt petition,” it said.

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