As many as 10 ministers in Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's ministry and 93 Lok Sabha MPs face criminal charges ranging from murder to rape besides extortion and even attempt to commit suicide.
Criminality in politics is not a new theme, but it has come into focus once again after former coal minister and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) leader Shibu Soren was sentenced to life imprisonment on Tuesday for murder.
A day later, cricketer turned politician Navjot Singh Sidhu got a suspended sentence of three years for causing the death of a man in a road rage. Soren is still a Lok Sabha member while Sidhu has resigned from the house.
The Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), which has chronicled the affidavits filed by MPs before they contested the polls, says the increasing induction of criminals in politics is having a negative impact on democracy in India.
Among the central ministers, Mohammed Ali Ashraf, a minister of state in the human resources development ministry, faces serious charges ranging from extortion and links with the underworld and kidnapping gangs. Textiles Minister Shankersinh Vaghela faces two corruption cases.
The other ministers still battling out their cases in courts include Railway Minister Lalu Prasad, Minister of State for Agriculture Taslimuddin, Minister of State for Women and Child Development Renuka Choudhry (obstructing a public servant), Minister of State in Food and Public Distribution Suryakanta Patil, Minister of State for Urban Development Ajay Maken, Minister of State for Water Resources Jai Prakash Yadav (cheating and criminal conspiracy), Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar (religion institution act) and Minister for Company Affairs Prem Chand Gupta (foreign exchange violations).
"Even if there is one parliamentarian with a criminal case, it is one too many. We will continue to expose politicians with criminal antecedents," said ADR convenor Bibhu Mohapatra.
"How can we allow tainted politicians like Arun Gawli, Pappu Yadav and Sadhu Yadav, who have a history of winning ballots with bullets, now rule the people?" Mohapatra asked.
Another study by the Bangalore-based Public Affairs Centre (PAC) says many MPs from almost all political parties are involved in crime.
According to it, one out of 12 MPs have cases that could attract penalties amounting to imprisonment for one year or less while one out of two (over 50 per cent) have cases that can lead to imprisonment of five or more years.
There is a regional concentration in terms of criminal cases.
Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh comprise 28 per cent of all MPs but account for over 50 per cent of MPs with high penalty criminal cases.
"A larger proportion of the less educated MPs have criminal cases against them (compared to) colleagues with higher education. Whether there is any causal connection between education, assets and criminality is not clear. Criminal cases are also found to be more among MPs in the age group 36-45," the study says.
In addition, it found that there are no criminal cases registered against 83 per cent of Congress and 80 per cent of BJP MPs.
The Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leads in the proportion of criminal cases (43.5 per cent).
In respect of criminal cases with severe penalties (five or more years' imprisonment), RJD tops the list with 34.8 per cent of MPs, BSP with 27.8 per cent and Samajwadi Party with 19.4 per cent.
The Congress MPs in this category account for 7.6 per cent of their total number in Parliament. For BJP it is 10.9 per cent.
With the Supreme Court getting tough, ruling that no prior sanction is needed to initiate proceedings against any former MP, MLA or chief minister in corruption cases, the going is expected to get tough for the political class.