News: In order to curb criminalization in politics, the Supreme Court has asked the political parties to publish the names of all the candidates in their party, (contesting elections) having criminal records. The parties must publish the names on their websites under the caption ‘candidates with criminal antecedents’ within 48 hours of their selection. Citing the issue of criminalization of politics, the SC imposed fines on NCP, CPI(M), BJP, Congress, etc. Read more here.
The issue of the criminalization of politics is not new. However, the SC took interest after the petition was filed during the Bihar Assembly Elections in November 2020. The petition alleged non-disclosure of criminal records of candidates by the political parties. This petition sought the suspension of symbols of political parties who failed in disclosing the names.
The SC had earlier, in February 2020, directed the political parties to upload details of candidates with criminal records. To be uploaded within 48 hours of their selection or a maximum of 2 weeks before the first date of filing of the nomination papers. Not just this, the political parties were asked to disclose the information to the public as to why such candidates were chosen and directed them to publish this information in at least 2 newspapers. But, many political parties did not uphold the direction of the SC and failed to disclose the information in the Bihar elections.
Annoyed by this attitude of the parties, the SC took them to task and fined Rs. 5 lakhs to NCP and CPI(M) and Rs. 1 lakh each to BJP, Congress, Janata Dal, RJD, CPI, and LJP. While imposing this fine, the SC made changes to its February verdict and made it mandatory for the political parties to publish the criminal records of their candidates within 48 hours on their official website.
The apex court noted that there is an alarming increase of criminals in politics and the government seems to do nothing about it. Moreover, Justice Nariman wrote,” It appears that over the last four general elections, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics. In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019, as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.”
Disqualification of candidates with criminal records.
The Indian constitution does not specify any action to be taken against those candidates having a criminal record. It is the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), 1951 which lays down certain criteria for disqualifying persons from contesting the elections. Section (8) of RPA, 1951 mentions disqualifying a candidate who has been convicted of a criminal offense with a jail term of more than 2 years. Such candidates according to RPA will not be allowed to contest elections for six years after they have completed the 2-year jail term. However, the law does not disqualify candidates on whom criminal charges are pending. This is because the law wants a conviction of such candidates to disqualify them, mere charges are not sufficient.
Some more Info on criminalization in politics for UPSC:
According to two top NGOs National Election Watch (NEW) established in 2002 and the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) established in 1999, out of 6318 candidates, more than 1000 of them were having criminal cases pending on them. These candidates participated in the assembly elections of Kerala, Puducherry, Assam, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal.
According to them, the following are the reasons for criminalization :
- Use of muscle power and money power to win elections and intimidate opposition.
- Lack of political will to bring reforms, as the majority of criminals bring heavy funding for the political parties.
- Narrow interests for the voters, as many in India still vote the candidate based on caste and religion rather than on their background (criminal or not).
- The government who has the power to bring in the bill regarding the issue shows a lack of interest in this topic.
- The government should abide by the Dinesh Goswami and the Indrajit Committee which recommended State funding of elections to curb the use of black money, which will eventually lead to de-criminalization of politics.
- Need to give more powers and strengthen the Election Commision (EC).
- Courts should consider imposing heavy fines on political parties, and banning the candidates with serious criminal records.
- The citizens in general need to be more aware and vigilant as to whom they are electing. We need to bring reforms on the pattern of voting. Voting based only on caste and religion might backfire, if the candidate has criminal charges against them.
UPSC Questions on the topic:
- Discuss the provisions available to resolve the problem of criminalization of politics in India and also suggest steps that need to be taken to address it more effectively. (250 words)
- Criminalisation of politics will be a blow to our democracy if left unchecked. In the light of this statement analyse the measures taken and also suggest some possible solutions. (250 words)
- Criminalisation of politics is an “extremely disastrous and lamentable situation”. Suggest measures to “cure the malignancy” of criminalisation of politics. (250 Words)
Which of the following are included in booth capturing?
1. Seizure of a polling station and making polling authorities surrender ballot papers or voting” machines.
2. Taking possession of polling stations and allowing only one’s own supporters to exercise their franchise.
3. Threatening and preventing any elector from going to the polling station.
4. Seizure of the place being used for counting votes. Select the correct answer by using the codes given below:
A) 1 and 2 only
B) 2 and 3 only
C) 1, 2, 3 and 4
D) 3 and 4 only
Correct Answer: C
With reference to the recent Supreme Court`s judgment aimed at checking the criminalization of politics, consider the following statements:
- The court made it mandatory to put out detailed information about candidates with criminal cases pending against them for political parties during both central and state elections.
- The details of the candidates should be published in newspapers and online.
- The details are to be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate.
A. 1 and 2 only
B. 2 and 3 only
C. 1 and 3 only
D. All of the above.
More on this website for your UPSC Preparation:
INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/international-relations/
SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/science-technology/
ENVIRONMENT & ECO.: https://currentaffairsupsc.in/environment-ecology-and-biodiversity/