SC Order on Criminalisation of Politics
- 14 Feb 2020
- 3 min read
Why in News
The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered political parties to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha elections along with the reasons that forced them to field suspected criminals.
- The order was a reply to the contempt petition about the general disregard shown by political parties to a 2018 Constitution Bench judgment (Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India) to publish the criminal details of their candidates in their respective websites and print as well as electronic media for public awareness.
- The SC passed an order while exercising powers under Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution which deals with the contempt power of the Supreme Court and enforcement of its decrees and orders.
Highlights of the Order
- It is mandatory for political parties (at the Central and State election level) to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases.
- It shall also include the nature of their offences, charges framed against them, the court concerned, case number, etc.
- Additionally, the political parties need to offer an explanation as to why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates in the first place.
- Thus the candidate’s ‘mere winnability at the polls’ shall not be the sole reason for handing over a ticket to the candidate to contest elections.
- The above information needs to be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles.
- The information mandatorily to be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
- The political parties need to submit compliance reports with the Election Commission of India within 72 hours.
- If a political party fails to submit then the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.
Significance of the Order
- Over the last four general elections, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics. The increasing criminalisation of politics threatens the law-making process and thus lawmakers should be above any kind of serious criminal allegation.
- In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament (MPs) had criminal cases pending against them. This number has increased to 43% of MPs in 2019.
- The direction of SC to legislate parliamentary legislation to curb criminalisation of politics may help to deliver constitutional governance.