List of Contents
Relevance: This article explains the recent Supreme Court steps to stop the criminalisation of politics.
While the Supreme Court issued steps to stop the criminalisation of politics. The legislature and political parties remain reluctant to curb it.
Recently, the Supreme Court issued few steps to weed out the criminalisation from legislators. These include
The SC asked ECI “to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents”.
About the case:
The supreme court observed that criminalisation in the Indian political system is growing day by day. The Court also observed that “Persons involved in the criminalisation of the political system should not be permitted to be the lawmakers.”
The Supreme Court has, however, stopped short of drastic steps to combat this problem. The SC also rejected the suggestion to direct the Election Commission to bar political parties that fail to comply with criminalisation protocols. The SC might be cautious and not infiltrating the domain of the legislature.
|Read more: The Criminalisation of politics and Supreme Court – Explained, pointwise|
Two reasons cited by the political parties to dilute the issue:
- “Winnability” of candidates: Political parties think a criminally charged person can win election by doing good for the people. This is an attempt to shift the blame of sending a criminally charged candidate to Parliament solely on the voter.
- Innocent until proven guilty system of Indian law: This is somewhat acceptable. But there is a blatant double standard for this argument.
- There were 4.78 lakh prisoners (as of December 2019) of whom 3.30 lakh were under trial, i.e. not yet proven guilty. Their fundamental rights — their right to liberty, freedom of movement, freedom of occupation, and right to dignity — are curbed completely. Even a peon cannot be appointed in government service if even a minor criminal case is pending against him.
- But a person charge-sheeted with murder or rape can become a legislator and even a minister.
- Further, an “innocent” undertrial cannot vote, but a man charge-sheeted for murder can even contest election from jail.
- These blatant double standards are a clear violation of Article 14, which guarantees to all citizens’ equality before the law.
Suggestions of Election Commission to avoid criminalisation of politics:
The EC demanded to restrict the person from conducting elections, in the following conditions.
- Offences that carry imprisonment of at least 5 years can be considered as a criterion.
- The Criminal cases against the candidate should have been filed at least six months before the scheduled elections.
- A competent court must have framed the charges.
Suggestions by the Supreme Court:
The Supreme Court had sent a directive in 2014, directing that cases against political candidates must be completed within a year, failing which the matter should be reported to the Chief Justices of the respective High Court. But there is no positive developments occur in this regard. This also needs immediate attention.