New Delhi: The Supreme Court, on Tuesday, said it cannot stop politicians with criminal cases from contesting elections and instead asked Parliament to enact a law to stop criminalization of politics. The court said the country is facing a growing trend of criminalization of politics and it “attacks the roots of democracy”.
The 5-judge Constitution bench comprising Chief Justice of India Deepak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra, said, “The time had come for a law against criminalization of politics. The nation eagerly waits for such legislation.”
The apex court, while issuing instructions to ensure the investigation of criminalization, has ruled that the candidates will have to disclose full details of pending criminal cases against themselves in their election affidavit. Candidates will also have to share this information with their respective political parties, who in turn will upload it on their websites.
The judges also ruled that both the candidate and the party have to publish it in a widely circulated newspaper. This should be done at least three times after filing the nomination papers.
An NGO called Public Interest Foundation and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay filed the petition in which they asked the court to bar a candidate from contesting elections if the charges against a him/her are fixed and there is a provision of jail up to five years or more if convicted in the case or cases.
Under the Representation of the People (RP) Act, politicians can’t contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case. The Center submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court in March this year which said that a total of 3,816 criminal cases have been filed against 1,765 MPs and MLAs in the country, out of which 3045 cases are pending. The figures don’t include cases registered in Maharashtra and Goa. Uttar Pradesh is in the top of the list with with 565 cases against 248 MPs and MLAs.