Candidates contesting polls will now have to file an affidavit declaring that they do not owe any dues to utility agencies in case they have occupied government accommodation in the last 10 years. Contestants will also have to produce a ‘no dues’ certificate from the public utilities that provide electricity, water and telephone connection, the Election Commission has said.
The rule came into force last month and those entering the fray for Assembly polls in West Bengal, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Kerala and Puducherry have to provide the new affidavit and attach the ‘no dues’ certificate.
This stipulation is the result of an August, 2015, Delhi High Court judgement directing that candidates in Assembly and parliamentary polls furnish an affidavit to prove they do not owe any arrears like pending electricity, water and telephone bills if they were or are occupying government accommodation.
At a recent meeting with EC officials to discuss various electoral reforms, representatives of national and regional parties said the ‘no dues certificate’ for candidates was leading to corruption as bribes were being paid for obtaining these.
The high court had also asked EC to consider the option of getting the candidates to file an affidavit stating there were no outstanding bills to be paid to any utilities as a pre-condition for contesting elections.