A five-judge bench of the Supreme court refused to bar politicians with criminal cases from contesting elections. It urged the Parliament to consider legislation to disqualify such candidates.
“It is the duty of Parliament to keep money and muscle power at bay. Parliament should cure the malignancy and it is not incurable before it becomes fatal to democracy,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said.
CJI Misra pointed out that the Parliament was obliged under Article 102 (1) (e) to make a law. “As conscience-keepers of the Constitution, we can ask you to do it,” he stated.
Supreme Court asks Parliament to frame law to weed out crime from politics
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Around a third of all elected representatives face charges. It is in national interest that a disqualification that bans criminal politicians comes into force. The sooner the better.
An existing law states that, if a politician is convicted for the crime, only then he/she will be banned for 6 years from contesting elections. Under the Representation of the People Act, only a convicted lawmaker is disqualified from contesting elections and not an accused one. Another issue is that there exists no law that prevents a convicted politician from heading a political party.
The judges expressed concern about the increase in criminalization of politics, “our Indian democracy has seen a steady increase in the level of criminalization creeping into Indian polity. This tends to disrupt constitutional ethos, strikes at the root of democratic form of government and makes citizens suffer.”
The five-judge bench directed that all political parties will have to display criminal records of candidates on their official website. A declaration on the criminal antecedents of their candidates should also be widely circulated by the political parties. These steps will foster and nurture an informed citizenry.
CJI Misra directed that each contesting candidate whether he or she belongs to a party or not is mandated to fill up all the required information in the forms to be submitted to the Election Commission of India before an election. The candidate should fill in the complete details of their criminal antecedents, if any in block letters.
The judgment came on petitions to bar politicians facing charges of heinous crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping from contesting elections.