Candidates with criminal past should not get ticket, Election Commission of India tells Supreme Court

Court gives week’s time to come up with a proposal.

January 24, 2020 01:27 pm | Updated January 25, 2020 12:41 am IST - New Delhi

The Election Commission of India in New Delhi. File

The Election Commission of India in New Delhi. File

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a proposition made by the Election Commission (EC) to ask political parties to not give ticket to those with criminal antecedents.

Appearing before a Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman, senior advocate Vikas Singh said 46% of Members of Parliament have criminal records. 

The Supreme Court’s long string of judgments against criminalisation of politics had hardly scratched the surface of the deep rot.

The Bench, also comprising Justice Ravindra S. Bhat, asked Mr. Singh and petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s lawyer, senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, to put their heads together and come up with a joint proposal detailing how it can be ensured that parties did not fall in with criminal politicians.

Justice Nariman, speaking for the Bench, said just a move to steer politics away from the denizens of the criminal world would definitely serve national and public interest. The court gave the two senior lawyers a week’s time to come up with their proposal.

Mr. Singh said the EC had tried several measures to curb criminalisation of politics, but to no avail.


Mr. Upadhyay had filed a contempt petition seeking action against the authorities and parties for not complying fully with a September 2018 judgment of a Constitution Bench, which had directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases of their candidates.

‘Cleansing parties’

The judgment had urged Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse political parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes. The ruling by a five-judge Bench led by then Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra concluded that rapid criminalisation of politics cannot be arrested by merely disqualifying tainted legislators but should begin by “cleansing” the political parties.

The court had suggested that Parliament frame a law that makes it obligatory for political parties to remove leaders charged with “heinous and grievous” crimes like rape, murder and kidnapping, only to a name a few, and refuse ticket to offenders in both parliamentary and Assembly polls.

“The nation eagerly awaits for such a legislation,” the court had told Parliament. It had also issued guidelines, including that both the candidate and the political party should declare the criminal antecedents of the former in widely-circulated newspapers. 

Top News Today

Sign in to unlock member-only benefits!
  • Access 10 free stories every month
  • Save stories to read later
  • Access to comment on every story
  • Sign-up/manage your newsletter subscriptions with a single click
  • Get notified by email for early access to discounts & offers on our products
Sign in


Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.