Right to Privacy of Candidate from Voters

Right to Privacy of Candidate from Voters
Context: The Supreme Court affirmed candidates right to privacy, ruling they are not obligated to disclose all personal details and possessions to voters during elections. This decision came in response to a case where an MLAs election was contested for failing to declare vehicles as assets. The Court sided with the MLA, stating that vehicles sold cannot be considered assets requiring disclosure during elections.

Representation of People Act 1951:
• Section 33 of the Representation of Peoples Act (RPA), 1951, governs nominations for election candidates and mandates the presentation of valid information.
• Under Section 36 of the RPA, 1951, nominations can be scrutinized by returning officers, who are empowered to reject nominations for defects deemed to be of a substantial character.

• The Supreme Court ruled that voters right to know is not absolute, indicating that a candidates privacy on matters irrelevant to their candidature is not considered a corrupt practice under Section 123 of the RPA, 1951.
• Non-disclosure of certain personal items by candidates is not deemed a substantial defect under Section 36 of the RPA, 1951, implying that candidates are not required to disclose every item of movable property they own.
• However, suppressing information about expensive items like watches can be considered a substantial defect, whereas ownership of simpler items may not constitute a defect in disclosure.
Right to Know: Voters have the right to access information about candidates criminal records, financial status, and manifesto, enabling informed decision-making during elections.
Voting Rights of NRIs: Non-resident Indians (NRIs) are permitted to vote in Indian elections, allowing them to participate in the democratic process irrespective of their residence abroad.
Voting Rights of Prisoners: Prisoners serving a sentence are generally disqualified from voting in elections as per constitutional provisions.
NOTA (Right Not to Vote): Voters have the option to choose NOTA if they feel none of the candidates are suitable, expressing dissatisfaction with the available choices.
Tendered Voting Rights: In case of unauthorized voting on behalf of a voter, affected individuals can cast a tendered vote separately to rectify the error and ensure their vote is correctly counted.
Voting Rights of Disabled or Infirm Citizens: The Election Commission of India (ECI) assists disabled or infirm citizens in casting their votes, ensuring accessibility and support for all eligible voters.

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