Criminalization of Politics
Sep 13, 2020
Criminalization of Politics
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has analysed self-sworn affidavits of Rajya Sabha MPs and released a report. According to it , 24% of Rajya Sabha members face criminal cases.
Q. What are key findings of report ?
- An analysis of 229 of the 233 Rajya Sabha seats that represent the States and Union Territories showed that 54 MPs or 24% had declared criminal cases.
- Out of the 229 MPs, 28 or 12% had declared serious criminal cases.
- 203 of the 229 MPs or 89% of those analysed had declared assets over ₹1crore.
Q. What are efforts by Supreme Court in this regard?
- Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India(2018): mandatory for political parties to declare and publish all criminal cases pending against their candidates.
- Association for Democratic Reforms(ADR) v. Union of Indian (2002): Obligatory for all candidates to file an affidavit before the returning officer, disclosing criminal cases pending against them.
- PUCL v. Union of India (2013): Upheld the constitutional right of citizens to cast a negative vote in elections.
- Lily Thomas v. Union of India (2013): Struck down as unconstitutional Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act that allowed convicted lawmakers a three-month period for filing appeals to the higher court and to get a stay on the conviction and sentence.
- Public Interest Foundation and Ors. v Union of India (2014): Directed all subordinate courts to decide on cases involving legislators within a year, or give reasons for not doing so to the chief justice of the high court.
- In February 2020, the court had asked the particle parties to state “The reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.” If a political party fails to comply, it would be in contempt of this court’s orders.
Q. What does the RPA say on this?
Currently, under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, lawmakers cannot contest elections only after their conviction in a criminal case.
Section 8 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections.
Q. What might be way forward to end this criminalization of politics?
- Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted.
- The RP Act should be amended to debar persons against whom cases of a heinous nature are pending from contesting elections.
- Fast-track courts should decide the cases of tainted legislators quickly.
- Bring greater transparency in campaign financing.
- The Election Commission of India (ECI) should have the power to audit the financial accounts of political parties.