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SC issued directions to remedy the Criminalization of Politics

RAMBABU SINGH THAKUR v. SUNIL ARORA & ORS. CONTEMPT PET. (C) NO. 2192 OF 2018 IN W.P. (C) No. 536 OF 2011 – February 13, 2020.

CORAM: A two judge bench comprising of Justice R.F. Nariman and Justice S. Ravindra Bhat.

A contempt petition was filed regarding the criminalization of politics in India. This issue was brought before this court and attention was also brought regarding the directions of a Constitutional Bench of this court in Public Interest Foundation and Ors.v. Union of India and Anr (2019) 3 SCC 224. In this judgment, the court was cognizant of the increasing criminalization of politics in India and lack of information about such criminalization among the citizens.

On the perusal of the documents on record and hearing the submissions of the counsels, it is evident that there has been an alarming increase of criminals in politics. It is also noted that the political parties provide no explanation as to why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates. Thus this court issued the following direction in exercise of its constitutional power under Articles 129 and 142 of the Indian Constitution.

1) It shall be mandatory for political parties [at the Central and State election level] to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases (including the nature of the offences, and relevant particulars such as whether charges have been framed, the concerned Court, the case number etc.) who have been selected as candidates, along with the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.2) The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere “winnability” at the polls.3) This information shall also be published in:(a)One local vernacular newspaper and one national newspaper;(b)On the official social media platforms of the political party, including Facebook & Twitter.4) These details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.5) The political party concerned shall then submit a report of compliance with these directions with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate.6) If a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the Election Commission, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.

Thus this court disposed of the contempt petitions with these directions.

– Priyadharshini R

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