Having thrown out convicted politicians from Parliament and state legislatures, the Supreme Court has now decided to examine how to check entry of criminal elements into politics and lay down criteria for withdrawal of prosecution of persons with political background.
A bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi recently converted an eight-year-old appeal filed by the Uttar Pradesh government into a public interest litigation (PIL) and noted there was a need to have guidelines to check criminalization of politics.
The state had challenged an Allahabad high court order constituting a committee of eminent persons to suggest ways and means to check criminalization of politics.
The SC ssued notices to the Centre and all the States, giving them eight weeks time to appear. It asked senior advocate Siddhartha Luthra to assist it in the matter.
The issues framed by the court for its consideration are – how to check entry of criminals into politics, to have measures for expediting investigations and trials of political persons with criminal antecedents, to lay down transparent criterion for grant of sanction of prosecution and spell out criteria for withdrawal of prosecution against those with political background.
To arm investigating agencies with scientific and better forensic tools for investigating such cases would be a priority for the court.
“Of particular importance and significance would be the issue of the independence of the prosecution machinery by making it an independent body free from control of the executive,” the court said, adding there was a need to tone up the judicial machinery while dealing with the cases.
Election Commission has been in favour of barring candidates from contesting elections if they are charged with an offence punishable with five years and above jail term five months before the poll.
The EC said charges are framed after application of judicial mind. Since July 2013 the SC has passed a series of judgements on decriminalization of politics ushering in electoral reforms much to the discomfort of the political class.