|Demand of the question |
Introduction. Contextual Introduction.
Body. Provisions of disqualification under Representation of Peoples Act 1951. Whether these provisions has helped in decriminalising Indian politics or not?
Conclusion. Way forward.
Democracy in form of representation of people exists in India. The members of the legislature are mandated to represent the aspirations and concerns of the people whom they represent.
The very spirit and objective of democracy could be lost if India continues to suffer at the hands of corrupt law-makers who are a liability to the society. In addition to this, India stands witness to an alarmingly high number of people with criminal background who have polluted Indian polity. Although there are provisions of disqualification under Representation of Peoples Act 1951, criminalisation of politics is still and issue in India.
Provisions of disqualification under Representation of Peoples Act 1951:
Section 8 deals with disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences. A person can be disqualified on below grounds:
- Disqualification on conviction for certain election offences and corrupt practices in the election.
- A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years.
- Disqualification on the ground of corrupt practices.
- Disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty.
- Disqualification for office under Government Company.
- Disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses.
- Disqualification for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery.
- A person must not have been punished for preaching and practicing social crimes such as Untouchability, Dowry, Sati etc.
Disqualification under Representation of people Act, 1951 and criminalised politics:
- It is the Representation of People Act which specifies what can disqualify an individual from contesting an election. The law does not bar individuals who have criminal cases pending against them from contesting elections.
- The disqualification of candidates with criminal cases depends on their conviction in involved cases. With cases dragging in courts for years, a disqualification based on conviction becomes ineffective.
- Low conviction rates in such cases compounds the problem. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) in their report from 2014 reported that 30% of sitting MPs and MLAs were facing some form of criminal proceedings, and only 0.5% were convicted of criminal charges in a court of law.
- Politicians are able to influence the witness and whistleblowers through power and money, thereby diluting the cases against them.
Thus mere disqualification under RPA, has not been able to decriminalise politics in India. Free and fair elections are the hallmark of a well functioning democracy. While we are justifiably proud of our democracy, there are a number of areas which need to be strengthened for us to realize the true potential of a well functioning democracy. Our election system, from the selection of candidates, to the manner in which funds are raised and spent in election campaigns, are in dire need of significant changes. There is need of a robust system to prevent criminals from entering polity in India.