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SC today held that ” Voters have a fundamental right to know the academic qualification of a candidate and any false declaration on this count can warrant rejection of nomination papers.”
This was held in the petition filed by Mairembam Prithviraj alias Prithviraj Singh and Pukhrem Sharatchandra Singh against each other challenging the judgment of the High Court of Manipur who declared the elections “void” of Prithviraj, who had contested the 2012 polls on a Nationalist Congress Party ticket against Congress nominee Sharatchandra from Moirang Assembly seat in Manipur. It was alleged that Prithviraj, in his nomination papers, had said he was an MBA, which was found to be incorrect and the plea taken by Prithviraj was that it was a “clerical error” cannot be accepted. The contention of Sharatchandra was that the declaration relating to his educational qualification in the affidavit is a clerical error cannot be accepted. It is not an error committed once.Since 2008, the Appellant was making the statement that he has an MBA degree. The information provided by him in the affidavit filed in Form 26 would amount to a false declaration.
“Every voter has a fundamental right to know about the educational qualification of a candidate. It is also clear from the provisions of the Act, Rules and Form 26 that there is a duty cast on the candidates to give correct information about their educational qualifications,” a Bench comprising Justices A R Dave and L Nageswara Rao said.
The Supreme Court also ruled that if there are only two candidates in the fray and it is proved that the returned candidate’s nomination papers have been “improperly accepted”, then the one who lost the poll does not need to produce proof that the election has been materially affected.