Can people with criminal background be allowed to contest? SC to decide today
The Election Commission, during the hearing on January 24, acknowledged that the directions issued by the apex court in 2018 to give wide publicity to the criminal antecedents of candidates contesting elections failed to yield the desired result of decriminalising politics.Updated: Feb 13, 2020 09:53 IST
The Supreme Court on Thursday will pronounce its verdict on steps to be taken to address the problem of criminalisation of politics. The court in its judgment is expected to decide whether directions can be issued to political parties to deny tickets to candidates with criminal background.
The judgment will be pronounced by a bench of justices Rohinton Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat in contempt petitions which, among other things, pointed out that despite repeated directions by the top court, the government and the Election Commission have failed to take steps for decriminalisation of politics.
The Election Commission, during the hearing on January 24, acknowledged that the directions issued by the apex court in 2018 to give wide publicity to the criminal antecedents of candidates contesting elections failed to yield the desired result of decriminalising politics.
The top court in its judgment delivered on September 25, 2018, had suggested enactment of a strong law to decriminalise politics.
The court had also issued directions to contesting candidates to disclose details of pending criminal cases against him/her in the form provided by the EC. It had also ordered political parties to publicise on their websites and in print and electronic media about the criminal antecedents of its candidates.
Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, one of the petitioners, submitted that pursuant to the judgment of the apex court, the EC issued directions to political parties and candidates to publish criminal antecedents. But the election commission did not make the necessary amendments to the rules governing this field - election symbols order and model code of conduct - and hence the directions by the EC did not have any legal sanction.
Further, the EC did not publish a list of leading newspapers and news channels wherein criminal antecedents of the contesting candidates had to be published. Upadhyay claimed that political parties took advantage of the same and published criminal antecedents in unpopular newspapers and news channels and at odd hours when people don’t watch TV.
The plea also said that the consequences of permitting criminals to contest elections and become legislators are extremely serious.
“During the electoral process itself, not only do they deploy enormous amounts of illegal money to interfere with outcome, they also intimidate voters and rival candidates. Thereafter, in our weak rule-of-law context, once they gain entry to our system of governance, they interfere with and influence the functioning of the government in favour of themselves”, the petition stated.
Upadhyay prayed that one of the conditions for the recognition of a political party should be that the party shall not set up a candidate with criminal antecedents to contest elections.