In a massive move to cleanse Indian Parliament candidate list, the Supreme Court on Tuesday pronounced that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting the elections. Furthermore, the Supreme Court asked political parties to name and shame their criminal candidates so that the electorate isn't kept in the blind. It also directed parliamentarians to bring about a law to ban criminal candidates in the Parliament.
Here's how the Supreme Court nudged the parliamentarians:
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".
Putting the onus on lawmakers, CJI Dipak Misra asked parliamentarians to take a call on banning Netas with criminal charges on their head from the India parliament:
"Lawmaking wing of the democracy to cure the malignancy. The country feels agonized when money and muscle power become the supreme power. Substantial efforts to be undertaken to cleanse the polluted stream of politics. Nation eagerly waits for such legislation. Society has a legitimate expectation to be governed by proper constitutional governance. Complete information about the criminal antecedents of the candidates forms the bedrock of wise decision-making."
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.
"Candidate must fill up forms before contesting elections giving clear details of all cases pending against them and political parties will need to publish the details of the cases pending against the candidate at least three times in the paper and tv after the filing of nomination," said CJI Dipak Misra.
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.