Should a person convicted of taking part in a protest in which he or she is arrested be treated in the same manner as a person convicted of a serious crime like extortion or murder? Could this ruling be used to settle political scores by tying down an opponent by filing cases against him or her? There are many unresolved issues here which will have to be clarified in due course. In the case of disqualification of a person convicted from the seat he or she occupies, the matter has to be referred to the President in the normal course of events who consults the Election Commission before taking a decision. While it is true that this ruling may lead to several by-elections and cast into disarray electoral mathematics, the fact that a cleansing of the political system was long overdue cannot be denied. This might be a signal to political parties themselves to develop their own internal checks. While winnability is a factor, putting up a tainted candidate erodes the credibility of any party. Those who have criminal records and get party tickets are often promoted for the wrong reasons. They are thought to have muscle power and the ability to intimidate voters. These are things that any credible political party must consider anathema. There may be short-term losses electorally in insisting on candidates with a spotless record, though that is an alarming thought. But in the long-run it will strengthen our electoral system and the restore the faith people once had in our elected representatives.
The move for this should have come from the political parties themselves but now that the Court has forced their hand, they should accept this with good grace and not be seen to go against it in spirit, even though there may be some kinks to iron out. The best time to start an internal course correction would be now when all parties are beginning the process of selecting suitable candidates for Election 2014.