When a public interest litigation, pending since 2017, came up for hearing before Justice N Kirubakaran on Monday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) G Rajagopalan, appearing for the Union of India, submitted that as of now there was no provision wherein the health details of a candidate can be obtained.
However, the judge, on recording the same, sought the ASG to obtain the Centre’s stand on the issue and posted the matter for further hearing to June 25.
Though the petition was filed only in connection with the health details of candidates contesting the local body polls, Justice Kirubakaran, who believed the same cannot be restricted only to local body polls but is also essential in the case of MLAs’ and MPs’ election, had on November 8, 2016, impleaded the Union of India and the ECI as respondents in the petition. However, in response to the notice, the State Chief Electoral officer on November 29, 2017, had submitted that Section 33A of the Representation of Peoples Act among other details only seeks a candidate to furnish details about the offences he or she is accused or convicted of. Further, as per the Supreme Court’s guidelines, the candidates must furnish details of assets in their name and that of their family.
On obtaining details of the health condition of a candidate, the counter said, “Though it cannot be stated that the health of a candidate is irrelevant in the view of natural expectation of a representative being able to perform his duties, any such call for disclosure will come in conflict with the concerned individuals’ right to privacy...”
The counter further submitted that in view of the above legal position, the ECI is of the view that it may not be the best course of action to invoke powers under Article 324 of the Constitution and issue any guidelines, considering the sensitivity of the subject and its implications on privacy.
Petitioner’s counsel M Purushothaman submitted that a voter has a right to know about the health condition of the candidate he/she would like to select. When the candidates have been asked to reveal their wealth and criminal antecedents, nothing prevents the government from calling for the medical certificate from the candidates, he added.