The third and final phase of Bihar assembly elections was completed on Saturday (November 7) and the fate of the candidates will be known on November 10. According to the data collated by the Election Commission of India (EC), over 1,100 candidates with criminal antecedents contested the polls.
As per EC’s data, a total of 3,733 candidates were in the fray in Bihar including 371 women. A total of 1,157 candidates have criminal antecedents.
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.
Related news: Exit polls put RJD on Bihar throne
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.
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.
Related news: Nitish says Bihar polls will be his last
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.
Earlier, a report by poll rights group Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said over 1,200 candidates in the Bihar polls have declared criminal cases against themselves, with 115 of them accused in cases related to crimes against women and 73 candidates facing cases related to murder.
Out of the 3,722 Bihar assembly election candidates analysed, 1,201 (32%) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves, the report said.
In the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, out of 3,450 candidates analysed, 1,038 (30%) had declared criminal cases against themselves, it added.
The report further said 915 (25%) candidates have declared serious criminal cases while in the previous Bihar assembly polls in 2015, 796 (23%) candidates had declared serious criminal cases against themselves.
Serious criminal cases are non-bailable offences attracting over five years of imprisonment, the report said.
(With inputs from PTI)