Three candidates with serious criminal charges pending against them are contesting the three Teachers and two Graduates constituency elections on political party tickets. The winners will become members for the state legislative council. The election will be held on February 3.

As per the information submitted by the 76 candidates seeking to contest elections to the five seats, three (4%) of the candidates have serious criminal charges pending against them. These include murder, causing death by negligence, furnishing false information, criminal intimidation, forgery, cheating etc. While one is contesting on a Congress ticket, the other is being fielded by the Shiv Sena and the third by the Bahujan Samaj Party. In all 13 (19%) have declared criminal cases against themselves.

The Association for Democratic Reforms has analysed 70 of the 76 affidavits. The others could not be analysed on account of missing information and bad scan. The NGO has been working for electoral and government reforms.

Ajit Ranade, founder, ADR and part of the Maharashtra Election Watch said the aim is to ensure disclosure and wide publicity so that voters are aware of who their candidates are.

"Our focus is to build public pressure and to ensure that such candidates are legally disqualified and are not allowed to contest," he said.

The charges declared in the affidavits are not mere First Information Reports. There is an investigation, the matter goes before a magistrate and then the charges are framed. "These are not frivolous but very serious charges," said Ranade.

Though the election is for teachers and graduates constituency, one candidate has declared an educational qualification up to Std X, five have studied up to Std XII, nine are graduates, 16 graduate professional, 29 postgraduates, eight doctorates and one candidate has not declared his educational qualification.

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