The Supreme Court on Tuesday held that each candidate shall declare his/her criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting an election. It also directed political parties to display all information about their candidates on their websites.
While the court acknowledged that it cannot pass an order to disqualify MPs/MLAs with a criminal antecedent, it said that informing the electorate about their representatives was the corner stone of democracy. The apex court also advised the Parliament to consider forming a law to this effect.
The Supreme Court ruling may not have changed the situation on ground, but it squarely put back in focus the unabashed alliance between criminals and politicians. According to Association for 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). Here's a list of some prominent names in the 16th Lok Sabha who have criminal cases against them:
BJP MP from Shimoga in Karnataka, and the party's chief ministerial candidate in the recently conducted polls has nine cases against him. The charges relate to cheating, corruption, forgery and criminal breach of trust. Charges have not been framed in any of the cases so far.
Congress MP from Bengaluru rural and brother of DK Shivakumar has eight cases against him. He is named in cases related to rioting and criminal intimidation amid other charges.
Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
The Union Minister of Women and Child Development has a lone case standing against her, where charges of criminal intimidation and voluntarily causing hurt in committing robbery have been invoked. However, no charges have been framed against her and only a court has taken cognosance of the offences so far.
Union Minister of Road Transport and Highways Nitin Gadkari has declared four criminal cases against himself in his affidavit to the Election Commission. He has been named in cases relating to obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions and criminal intimidation.
Rajesh Ranjan aka Pappu Yadav
Pappu Yadav, who was elected as an MP from Madhepura on an RJD ticket and who now has his own party, is the Lok Sabha member with the highest number of cases against him, including several serious crimes like murder and attempt to murder. He has 24 criminal cases lodged against him. Yadav has been is in active politics for about three decades and was first elected to the Lok Sabha in 1991. He has defeated political heavyweights like Sharad Yadav.
He was convicted in a murder case by a lower court and had to serve a term, staying away from electoral politics, for five years. However, after the Patna High Court acquitted him, he contested and won polls from Madhepura in north Bihar.
BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi and former minister for drinking water and sanitation, Uma Bharti has 13 criminal cases against her. Charges have been framed in two cases against Bharti while courts have taken cognisance in 11 other cases against her. Charges against her mostly relate to making provocative speeches, creating enmity between groups, criminal intimidation, unlawful assembly of people etc. She also has a case of attempt to murder against her and ranks sixth among the list of MPs with maximum number of cases against them.
Notably, charges have been framed against Bharti in the Babri Masjid demolition case. She is accused of hatching a criminal conspiracy and provoking a crowd that led to the demolition of the disputed Babri Masjid structure.
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 verdict was unanimously passed.
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.
The status before the filing of these petitions was that lawmakers were barred under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act from contesting elections only after their conviction in a criminal case. The verdict was reserved on 28 August.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Sep 25, 2018 20:35 PM