Over 1,100 candidates with criminal antecedents contested Bihar Assembly polls: Election Commission data

Now, the EC has made it clear that the first “publicity” of criminal records should be within first four days of the last date of withdrawal of candidature

Over 1,100 candidates with criminal antecedents contested the Bihar Assembly polls, according to data collated by the Election Commission.

A total of 3,733 candidates were in the fray in the three-phase elections, including 371 women, as per data given out by the Commission on Saturday after the last phase of polling concluded.

A total of 1157 candidates have criminal antecedents, according to the poll watchdog.

Bihar Assembly election | 89% of State’s constituencies have 3 or more candidates with criminal records: ADR

Following a Supreme Court direction in February this year, the Election Commission had in March asked political parties to justify why they chose candidates with criminal history to contest elections.

Assembly elections in Bihar were the first full-fledged polls where such details of their candidates were made public by parties.

In September, the EC had made the norms of publicity of criminal antecedents of candidates stringent by putting a timeline on when such advertisements should be published and broadcast during electioneering.

Also read | 34% candidates in second phase Bihar elections face criminal cases: ADR report

In October, 2018, the Commission had issued directions making it compulsory for candidates contesting elections and the parties fielding them to advertise their criminal antecedents in TV and newspapers at least three times during electioneering.

Now, the EC has made it clear that the first “publicity” of criminal records should be within first four days of the last date of withdrawal of candidature.

It said the second publicity should be between fifth and eighth day of the last date of withdrawal.

The third and final publicity should be from ninth day till the last day of campaign — two days prior to polling day.

“This timeline will help the voters in exercising their choices in more informed manner,” a statement by the Commission had said.

An EC official said the timeline would ensure that the advertisements attract the public eye. There was a feeling that candidates time the publicity of their criminal records in such a way that it fails to grab attention.

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