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SC Rescinds High Court Decision Nullifying MLA’s Election Over Asset Disclosure

Landmark Ruling: SC Clarifies Disclosure Requirements for Election Candidates

New Delhi, 09-04-2024 : The Supreme Court has ruled that candidates contesting elections are not obliged to disclose every movable property owned by them or their dependents unless they are of substantial value or indicate a luxurious lifestyle. This verdict came as the Court overturned the decision of the Gauhati High Court, which had nullified the election of Karikho Kri due to his alleged non-disclosure of three vehicles owned by his wife and son while filing his nomination.

Karikho Kri, an Independent MLA from the Tezu Assembly constituency in Arunachal Pradesh, was elected in 2019. The election was challenged by the unsuccessful Congress candidate Nuney Tayang, who argued that Kri had exercised undue influence by not disclosing the vehicles.

However, the Supreme Court found that these vehicles had either been gifted or sold before Kri filed his nomination, thus absolving him of any non-disclosure wrongdoing. The Court emphasized that candidates have a right to privacy regarding matters irrelevant to their candidacy and not every asset needs to be disclosed.

While acknowledging the voters’ right to know about high-value assets reflecting a candidate’s lifestyle, the Court clarified that there is no strict rule governing disclosure, and each case should be evaluated individually. Consequently, the Supreme Court set aside the High Court’s decision, reinstating Kri’s victory in the 2019 election.

The case arose from an election petition filed by Nuney Tayang, alleging that Kri had provided inaccurate information in his nomination papers and failed to disclose certain occupancy details and dues certificates. However, the Supreme Court deemed these arguments insufficient to nullify Kri’s election, thus bringing the legal dispute to a close.