Vikash Sharma

Candidates contesting the panchayat elections in Odisha will now have to share information regarding their criminal antecedents, assets and educational qualification at the time of filing nominations through an affidavit. Such disclosures through an affidavit have been made mandatory as per the amendment of the Odisha Panchayat Laws promulgated through an Ordinance.

The State government has promulgated the Ordinance ‘The Odisha Panchayat Laws (Amendment) Ordinance, 2021’ to amend ‘The Odisha Grama Panchayats Act, 1964’, ‘The Odisha Panchayat Samiti Act, 1959’ and ‘The Odisha Zilla Parisad Act, 1991’.

A gazette notification in this regard was issued by the Odisha Law Department on Friday.

As per the provisions, the candidates contesting the elections for Sarpanch, Samiti members, Nominee or Zilla Parishad members, all have to compulsorily submit the complete profile information during their nomination. Besides, there is a provision of six months jail term, or with fine, or with both for candidates giving false information or concealing any data.

The new rules will be applicable in the upcoming Panchayat elections scheduled to be held in February 2022.

“If a candidate who himself/herself or through his/her proposer, with intent to be elected in an election gives false information which he/she knows or has reason to believe to be false or conceals any information in his/her nomination paper or in his affidavit which is required to be delivered shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to six months, or with fine, or both,” read the notification.

As per the Amendment to the Odisha Gram Panchayats Act, more powers have been vested upon Panchayat representatives so that they can be engaged in relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities for Disaster Management.

Panchayatiraj Minister Pratap Jena said that a gazette notification has been issued for sharing information through affidavit. The candidates contesting elections are generally required to do an affidavit. If the information shared in the affidavit is found out to be false, action will be taken against the said candidate. 

Sarpanch of Mudupur panchayat in Jagatsinghpur district Subas Mohanty termed the government’s move as appropriate. “We don’t need to hide any information. We should disclose everything about ourselves in the affidavit,” observed Mohanty. 

BJP’s general secretary Golak Mohapatra alleged that the government has not made any provision in the amendment to get rid of BJD’s leaders, workers and officers who are involved in corruption in panhayat level. Had this been done, the money meant for the poor would have reached them. The misappropriation of money will increase further.