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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

GS-II :
  • 14 February, 2020

  • 3 Min Read

Publish details of tainted candidates: SC to parties

Syllabus subtopic: Salient Features of the Representation of People’s Act.

Prelims and Mains focus: about the SC directions and its significance; about criminalization of politics

Context: Supreme Court in its judgement handed down a series of directions aimed at checking the criminalization of politics.

Why?

  • The apex court noted that there has been an alarming increase in the number of candidates with criminal records entering politics.

  • In 2004, 24% of members of Parliament (MPs) had criminal cases pending against them. In 2009, that went up to 30%, in 2014 to 34%, and in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.

What was the case about?

The court was passing orders on a contempt petition that raised the issue of criminalization of politics claiming that directions given by the court in a 2018 order on disclosure of criminal antecedents by candidates are not being followed.

Details of the SC judgement

  • The court ruled that it shall be mandatory for political parties during central and state elections to put out detailed information about candidates with criminal cases pending against them, including the nature of the offences.

  • Parties must also list the reasons for selecting such candidates and state why others without criminal antecedents were not selected.

  • 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.

  • The information should be published in one local vernacular newspaper, a national newspaper, and on the official social media platforms of the political party, including Facebook and Twitter.

  • These details are to be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate.

  • 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. 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 SC’s orders.

Likely implications of these directions

The directions are likely to have a key political fallout given that the two biggest and politically crucial states, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, go to polls over the next two years.

Conclusion

  • The order is a wake-up call for political parties as these decisions should have been taken by the parties on their own without waiting for the apex court to spell out the steps that political parties should be taking.

  • It strengthens the electoral democratic process by enabling voters to make a choice keeping all factors in mind.

  • Political parties have welcomed the step, but question if the Supreme Court order infringes on the powers of the elected representatives.

  • The real problem is that Supreme Court has only ordered political parties to give information on their website, but does not say that the direction is binding. Political parties can still choose to nominate people with criminal cases against them.

Source: Livemint


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