Supreme Court verdict LATEST updates: The Supreme Court also seems to have placed an undue trust in the political class by expecting that legislature will enthusiastically respond to its direction of 'considering the possibility of legislating on this subject'.
The Supreme Court has ignored many other realities as well. There are real and immense possibilities of trial being vitiated if the MP / MLA continues to hold a position of power, especially if their party is in power.
According to Association of Democratic Reforms, at least 34 percent of MPs in Lok Sabha have self-declared cases against them, and about 22 percent of these face serious criminal charges. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party had the highest number of MPs (94) with self-declared criminal cases against them, followed by Shiv Sena (15).
This is a very disappointing judgment. The Supreme Court has stuck to the letter of the law but not appreciated the reality of the ground and it has overlooked the spirit of the law, Jagdeep Chhokar, founding member of ADR said. He further added that Parliament is not going to make this law as it has not done it for last 15 years. "I am very certain that no political party is going to do this, regardless of what the Supreme Court says."
Activists who have been fighting against politicians with criminal cases said they were extremely disappointed with the Supreme Court verdict. The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting an election, saying criminalisation of politics of the largest democracy is "unsettling". A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said that citizens have a right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates.
The Supreme Court bench issued a slew of directions for curbing criminalisation of politics. The Supreme Court bench said that political parties should issue declaration and give wide publicity in electronic media about the antecedents of the candidates.
The apex court added that Parliament must make law to ensure candidates with criminal antecedents don’t enter public life and take part in law making. The Supreme Court said that candidates contesting elections must declare their criminal antecedents. The apex court said that it is not in a position to add disqualification of candidates on filing of chargesheet in criminal cases. However, Supreme Court said that it will issue a slew of directions for curbing criminalisation of politics.
The five-judge constitution bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice Fali Nariman, Justice AM Khanwilkar, Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra had in the course of hearing made it clear that it can neither lay down a law nor ask the Parliament to enact one to bar the politicians with criminal antecedents from contesting elections.
File image of Supreme Court of India. PTI
"We can't make a law or do something indirectly what we can't do directly. We will only see if we can do anything on disclosure (of criminal antecedents). We will see if we can add to the disclosure so that people make a well-informed choice at polling booth. Let people judge," Chief Justice Misra had said on the conclusion of arguments on 28 August when verdict was reserved.
Accepting that it could not pass directions which are in the nature of law making nor it could, respecting the separation of powers, asking the Parliament to enact law ejecting politicians with criminal antecedents from the electoral field, the Chief Justice taking recourse to the Right to Information, had said: "Right to information (about the criminal antecedents of the candidates) means right to proper information."
This court had said in the wake of strong resistance by the Centre which had told the court that the law making was within the exclusive domain of the legislature and "what court can't do directly (asking legislature to enact law), it can't do indirectly (by asking the Election Commission to frame regulation under the Symbol Rules)".
The court in the course of the hearing had asked whether it could direct the Election Commission (EC) to include in the symbol order a clause that a political party is liable to lose its recognition if it fields candidates accused of heinous crimes.
Recognising its constitutional limitations that it can only interpret the constitution and either read down or uphold a law, the apex court had indicated that it could take recourse to right to information to pass directions about the dissemination of information about the antecedents of a candidate so that voters could make an informed choice at the polling booth.
The EC had told the court that it had made the recommendation to eject a candidate from electoral fray after the framing of the charges in heinous cases way back in 1997, which was reiterated in 1999 and subsequently, but nothing moved.
Seeking the barring of politicians charge-sheeted in heinous crimes from the electoral fray, the PIL petitioner NGO Public Interest Foundation had contended that parliament with 34 percent lawmakers with criminal background will never act to cleanse the electoral politics.
Updated Date: Sep 25, 2018 13:35 PM