I agree with Markandey Katju that the Supreme Court judgment disqualifying candidates in custody from contesting elections can be misused by political parties (“Crime, caste and judicial restraint,” July 17). Politicians of the ruling party can send their rivals to police custody or jail to win the elections easily. No one favours criminalisation of politics. But respected politicians should not be made to look like criminals at the time of election.
A person is innocent until proved guilty. This principle may be misused by politicians but in a democracy, we have to accept it. If the court’s verdict is to be followed, a politician who is convicted cannot contest an election unless he or she exhausts all avenues to prove that he or she is innocent. It is for people and the media to ensure that politicians with a criminal background do not get elected.
Similarly a ban on a meeting of groups, based on caste or anything else, is a violation of fundamental rights. Unfortunately, due to the inefficiency of the executive, the judiciary has become very active and, at times, gives rulings which can be seen as overreach.
The Supreme Court rulings on de-criminalisation of politics are undoubtedly laudable. But when applied to practical situations, they may lead to disastrous consequences. A politician needs to get only a fabricated FIR filed against a rival to get him disqualified.
A better solution would be to commit such cases to special courts where trials are conducted on a day-to-day basis and decided in a reasonable period of time, unlike the present process where a case drags on for years.