In a big move to cleanse candidate list, the Supreme Court on Tuesday pronounced that all candidates who wish to contest polls will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before filing for elections. Furthermore, it directed parliamentarians to bring about a law to ban criminal candidates in the Parliament which will ensure transparency in the electoral system.
CJI Dipak Misra, while pronouncing the verdict, said, "Citizens in a democracy cannot be compelled to stand as silent, deaf and mute spectators to corruption. For democracy to survive, it is essential that the best available men should be chosen as the people‘s representatives".
Here are the five directions given by the Supreme Court in relation to criminal neta case:
DIRECTION 1: Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein
DIRECTION 2: It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal cases pending against the candidate
DIRECTION 3: If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her
DIRECTION 4: The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents
DIRECTION 5: The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after the filing of the nomination papers
Earlier on Monday, a five-judge bench was hearing a batch of petitions seeking disqualification of lawmakers even before their conviction in criminal cases to curb "criminalisation of politics" in the country. The Supreme Court, however, also said that it is no position to add disqualification criteria for candidates with criminal records and hence issued directions instead.
The court had earlier dubbed criminalisation of politics as "rot", and said it may consider directing the Election Commission to ask political parties to get their members to disclose criminal cases against them so that electors know how many "alleged crooks" are there in such parties.
At present, a charge sheet does not debar a person from contesting elections and cases usually take years to be decided. As a tentative measure, on 1 November 2017, the Supreme Court had directed the centre to set up special fast-track courts to try more than 1,581 cases pending against legislators.