Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms & Anr. & People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) & Anr. v. Union of India & Anr. [(2002) 5 SCC 294]. This judgment recognizes the right of a voter to know the antecedents of a candidate – pertaining to criminal offences, declaration of assets (movable, immovable, bank balance, etc.) and educational qualifications, while filing the nomination paper.
This judgment relates to the question whether, before casting their vote, voters have a right to know relevant particulars of their candidates. The Delhi High Court in a Writ Petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms had held that for making the right choice, it is essential for a voter to know the past of a candidate. Keeping information about the candidate in the dark would not be in the interest of democracy as well as the well-being of the country. The Delhi High Court, therefore, gave appropriate directions to the Election Commission. This judgment was challenged by the Union of India before the Supreme Court in a Special Leave Petition. PUCL had filed a Writ Petition under Article 32 of the Constitution seeking directions that there should be declaration of assets by candidates and that such declaration should be made every year during the tenure as an elected representative. PUCL also prayed that guidelines be framed under Article 141 of the Constitution by the Supreme Court. In the judgment, the Supreme Court has decided that the voters have a right to know the antecedents of the candidates as it is a right flowing from Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. The Court directed the Election Commission that every MP/MLA, as a necessary part of his nomination paper, should furnish his antecedents pertaining to criminal offences, declaration of his assets (movable, immovable, bank balance, etc.) and educational qualifications.