Make poll affidavits available online: High Court tells Gujarat SEC

The Gujarat High Court on Monday asked the State Election Commission (SEC) to upload all the poll affidavits of candidates contesting local body polls within the next six months and make it a regular practice for future elections.

The direction came from the high court bench of Acting Chief Justice Jayant Patel and Justice V M Pancholi on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) demanding a stay on the local body polls which took place recently across the state. The PIL, demanding a stay on the polls, was filed by Gujarat Nagrik Sangathan on November 18, four days before the first phase of polls on six municipal corporations.

According to the PIL, voters were in the dark about the past track record of poll candidates, as their affidavits, containing their income, profession as well as criminal case details (if any), are not uploaded on the SEC website for the general public to view them. Due to the unavailability of such records online, voters are not being able to take a call about whom to vote, stated the PIL.

During the arguments, the SEC stated in its reply that it requires time to develop IT infrastructure to upload these affidavits. The SEC also argued that all the affidavits were already pasted on notice boards of each of the ward election offices and voters still have an option to see them.

While passing the order today, the High Court told the SEC that it should not expect that people will go to each of these offices to read the affidavits, as it will consume time and energy. The high court also asked the SEC to bring transparency in their functioning by making these affidavits available online.

Taking in view the inability of SEC to do it on an immediate basis, the bench asked them to upload these affidavits within six months as the elections are also over. The high court also directed the SEC to make it a regular practice and upload poll affidavits well in advance in the next elections.