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

The Election Commission of India in New Delhi. File

The Election Commission of India in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

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

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.

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

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. 

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Printable version | Feb 27, 2020 9:23:04 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/candidates-with-criminal-past-should-not-get-ticket-election-commission-of-india-tells-supreme-court/article30641893.ece

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