Tuesday, January 31, 2023

DCs bar declaration of consensus candidates

On the eve of announcement of poll schedule for Nagaland to elect the next 14th Nagaland Legislative Assembly (NLA), several Deputy Commissioners (DCs) have cautioned that declaration of village/area/range consensus candidates by various public organizations/village councils/range organisation was violation of various election-related laws and offense under the Indian Penal Code.
It may be noted that Nagaland Post had on January 6 commented that the state government direct all DCs to issue cautionary notices as was done by DC Wokha earlier. It may be noted that earlier DCs of Mokokchung, Wokha and Nuiland had issued circulars against declaration of ‘consensus candidate’. On Wednesday, DCs of Dimapur and Peren also issued similar circulars, informing all village and range authorities and organisation that declaring consensus candidates was illegal.
The circular pointed out that undue influence at elections, including interference or any attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the electoral right by any means such as threat of injury/restraint was an offence. Under Sec 125 of Representation of the People Act 1951, any attempt to promote enmity between classes in connection with elections on grounds of religion, race, caste, community, or language constitutes an electoral offense and was also punishable under Sec 153A, 153B, 295A and 505(2) of IPC.
The same has been reiterated by the ECI in its instructions dated April 26, 2014 and further prohibits any organization or group from activity or statements that amount to an attack on the personal life of any person or are malicious or offend decency and morality. Violation of the same by any organization can also lead to debarment and denial of permission to hold any further programmes/activity. Further, the Village Council Act 1978 is bound to be neutral in matters related to the election.
Therefore, all the public/range organisations/village council have been asked to take due note of the provisions of the law and refrain from the declaration of village/area/range consensus candidates or any other activity that subverts the free exercise of electoral right by any means such as threats of injury or wrongful confinement. Any organization/person that violates the same shall be dealt with strictly as per the law.

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