The Supreme Court directs political parties to upload details of candidates with criminal backgrounds on their official websites as well as in newspapers and on social media

No Need To Refer The Petition Challenging The Abrogation Of Article 370 Of The Constitution To A Larger Bench: SC

A bench headed by Justice F Narimanand Ravindra Bhat of the Supreme Court of India passed the order in contempt petitions filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, directed political parties to publish details of pending criminal cases against candidates on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and in one local vernacular and one national newspaper. The top court also directed political parties to submit a compliance report to the Election Commission within 72 hours of selecting candidates having pending criminal cases against them.

Prior Facts:

Contempt of court will have a six month jail term and a fine, but SC can to invoke extraordinary powers to do anything it deems fit to ensure justice. In September 2018, a five judge Constitution Bench had unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls and called for a wider publicity, through print and electronic media about such details. SC also set up special courts to hasten criminal cases against politicians. However, none of the steps have been a deterrent so far. The contempt petitions were filed to ensure compliance of the Supreme Court’s directions in Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India.

Key Features:

  • The apex court said political parties will also have to upload reasons for selecting candidates with pending criminal cases on their website.
  • The top court said political parties will have to submit a compliance report in this regard to the Election Commission within 72 hours of selecting candidates having pending criminal cases against them.
  • Court directed that the EC shall bring it to the notice of the apex court in case of failure of political parties to comply with its directions.
  • The court ruled that it shall be mandatory for political parties during central and state elections to put out detailed information about candidates with criminal cases pending against them, including the nature of the offences.
  • Upadhyay had claimed that despite these directions, the Election Commission neither amended the Election Symbol Order 1968 nor the Model Code of Conduct.
  • The petitioner pointed out that, “criminalization of politics in India has only grown. Data published by the ADR shows that 24% MPs have criminal cases pending against them (12% had serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, kidnapping, crime against women) in 2004, which increased to 30% (15% serious) in 2009 and 34% (21% serious) in 2014. Out of 7810 candidates analysed for the 2009 elections to the Lok Sabha, 1158 or 15% declared criminal cases of which 610 or 8% had serious cases. Out of 8163 candidates for general elections in 2014, 1398 or 17% declared criminal cases of which 889 (11%) had serious cases”.

Judgement:

The Court observed that, “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”.The court added that, “The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements, and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere ‘win ability’ at the polls”.

Edited by J. Madonna Jephi

Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje

Reference:

  • Case of Rambabu Singh Thakur vs. Sunil Arora, contempt petition (C) no. 2192 OF 2018 in W.P. (C) No. 536 OF 2011, decided by the Supreme Court of India on February 13, 2020.
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Vaibhav Goyal is a 3rd year BA.LLB (H) student of UILS, Panjab University, Chandigarh, India. He also basically belongs to the “City Beautiful-Chandigarh”. He had interned and have work experience at various Central and State Government bodies of India including the National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi; the Central Information Commission, New Delhi; U.T. Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh, etc. His research projects includes the study on the Right to Emergency Services (PSHRC), Resettlement of Migrant People (NHRC), Implications of RTI in Financial Institutions (CIC), etc. His publications involve articles in different fields of law like administrative, jurisprudence, etc. on online journals including the Juscholars Blog, Burnished Law Journal, etc. His research paper on Prison Reform was published in the Panjab University Journal and his paper was selected in category of best abstract on the topic of Naxalism: A State of Lawlessness and Arbitrariness. He had scored well in various competitions of law consisting of Quiz, Essay Writing, Lecture, Declamation, etc. He had also participated in various conferences including the World Law Forum Conference on Strategic Lawsuits on Public Participation held in New Delhi on Oct 20, 2018 and the National Law Conclave 2020 held at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi on Jan 11, 2020.