SC issues notice to Centre, EC on contempt plea for 'violation' of order directing candidates to declare pending criminal cases

The Supreme Court on Friday issued a show-cause notice to the Centre and the EC on a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings for alleged violation of the apex court's judgment directing all candidates to declare their criminal antecedents to the poll panel before contesting elections.

 SC issues notice to Centre, EC on contempt plea for violation of order directing candidates to declare pending criminal cases

File image of the Supreme Court of India. PTI

A bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman has sought a reply in a week from the three deputy election commissioners, law secretary and the cabinet secretary for not complying with its judgment, after which it will take up the matter in an urgent hearing, reports said. The Election Commission is expected to a categorical affidavit detailing the effort made in compliance with the Supreme Court's order in a week.

A contempt petition was filed against the EC by BJP leader Ashwini Upadhyay, who said that the political parties had not complied with the apex court's order regarding MPs and MLAs who have pending criminal cases against them.

In September 2018, a five-judge bench headed by then-CJI Dipak Misra unanimously held that all candidates would have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting an election, saying that the criminalisation of politics of the largest democracy is "unsettling". The bench said that political parties are obligated to put all the information about their candidates on their websites.

The apex court favoured wider publicity, through print and electronic media about the antecedents of candidates affiliated to political parties. Reportedly, the apex court said that the information about pending criminal cases had to be declared "prominently" in widely circulated newspapers and on TV channels. Issuing the guidelines, the Supreme Court noted that "citizens have the right to be informed" about the "antecedents" of their candidates.

The directives include that candidates must fill out Election Commission forms with details of their criminal past and pending cases in bold letters; that antecedents be declared on the website of the party, and that Parliament must make laws to ensure candidates with criminal antecedents don't enter public life and take part in lawmaking.

The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas raising a question whether lawmakers facing criminal trial can be disqualified from contesting elections at the stage of framing of charges against them.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Mar 29, 2019 13:38:51 IST