Should netas with criminal records be allowed to contest elections? Supreme Court dismisses PIL, tells petitioner to approach EC

The Supreme Court dismissed a public interest litigation seeking that it direct the Election Commission not to allow any member of a political party with criminal antecedent to contest elections.

FP Staff January 21, 2019 12:20:11 IST
Should netas with criminal records be allowed to contest elections? Supreme Court dismisses PIL, tells petitioner to approach EC
  • The bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, asked the petitioner to approach the Election Commission of India with his plea.

  • The court came to the decision after hearing a petition by BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay.

  • The plea also asked the Supreme Court to ensure that parties do not field history-sheeters as candidates during elections.

The Supreme Court on Monday dismissed a public interest litigation seeking a direction to the Election Commission to not allow any member of a political party with criminal antecedent to contest elections.

However, the bench, led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, asked the petitioner, BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, to approach the Election Commission with his plea, reported LiveLaw.

In his petition, Upadhyay had also asked the Supreme Court to ensure that parties do not field history-sheeters as candidates during elections and issue directions on the same, reported Times Now.

On 25 September, 2018, the Supreme Court had held that each candidate must declare his or her criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting any polls. It had asked Parliament to ensure that criminals do not come into politics.

"There is no bar on criminal antecedents of political leaders. It's up to Parliament to make laws," a bench headed by then chief justice Dipak Misra had said after hearing the petition seeking to disqualify chargesheeted candidates from contesting polls.

In the unanimous verdict, the bench, also comprising justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, had said political parties are obligated to share all information about their candidates on their websites.

A chargesheet 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 the more than 1,581 cases pending against legislators.

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