Criminalization of Politics

People appointed to various posts in the Legislative, Executive and Judiciary wing of governance, derive their rights, roles and responsibilities from the Constitution and as such are called constitutional functionaries. These functionaries, who have taken the pledge to uphold the constitutional principles, are charged with the responsibility of ensuring transparency and accountability in governance and not taint the principles of democracy with corruption. Criminalization of politics goes against these ideals of constitution whereby people charged or convicted with any crime enter politics and contest elections and in certain cases get elected to the Parliament or State legislature.

Article.102 and Article.191 of the Indian Constitution provide for disqualifications from being chosen as a member of the parliament or state legislature respectively, however these articles do not include, within its ambit disqualification of persons with criminal background and/or charged with offences involving moral turpitude and/or of persons against whom criminal cases are pending; from being appointed as ministers in the Central and the State Governments. Chapter III of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 provide for disqualification on grounds of ‘conviction’ of any offence enlisted under this chapter but not for reasons mentioned above.

In a recent case, a two judge bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice RF Nariman and Justice Ravindra Bhat observed that over the last four general elections, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics. In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament 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.

In the absence of any legislation or constitutional provisions dealing with this menace a Constitution bench of the Supreme Court in Public Interest Foundation and Ors. v. Union of India and Anr, provided for the following guidelines to be followed before any person is appointed as a candidate to contest any election:

  1.  Every person who wants to contest election will be required to fill the form provided by the Election Commission of India
  2. That such person will have to put all necessary information required to be rendered by Commission.
  3. That such person will have to mention in bold letters about the criminal matters against them in any court.
  4. That the person, who is going to contest election on the ticket given by any political party, will be bound to inform about the cases pending against them.
  5. In the above situation (point 4.) such political party is under obligation to put all information in their website related to such person along with the information of cases against him.
  6. That such person and concerned political party shall issue a declaration pertaining to the information of cases against the candidate. This should be done by giving wide publicity through print and electronic media in the locality as well as on a large level.
  7. That such procedure of declaration and giving wide publicity should be done at least three times after filing of the nomination.

These guidelines were issued to make people aware about the criminal background of the candidates so that the public can be more vigilant at the time of electing them as their representatives. Since the Supreme Court lacks the power to legislate these directions need to be formalized into a law passed by the parliament to ensure their enforceability in case of non-compliance. 


The case of Aruna Shanbaug that changed the Euthanasia laws...

It is my Belief that death is a friend to whom we should be grateful, for it frees us from the manifold ills which are our lot - Mahatma Gandhi. As human beings, out the umpteen desires that we have, one of them is definitely to have a peaceful death....

Justice D Y Chandrachud’s path-breaking Verdict in the Sabarimala Case of...

“Will the quest for equality and fraternity be denuded of its content where women continue to be treated as children of a lesser god in exercising their liberties in matters of belief, faith and worship? Will the pursuit of individual dignity be capable of being achieved if we deny...

After repealing section 377, its time to Legalise Same-Sex Marriage in...

A draconian, archaic law that criminalized homosexuality was struck down in a historic judgment given by the Supreme Court in 2018. Two years after the judgment, the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) community has now sought legal recognition of their relationships. As the social stigmas surrounding the LGBTQ...

Modern Day Book Burning a.k.a Internet Shutdowns

The internet has become an indispensable element in our society for all the obvious reasons. For the majority of users, not a single day goes by where we don't 'need' the internet and the lack of a reliable and fast connection can feel paralyzing. An internet shutdown refers to...

Letter to UNHRC – Dr Kafeel Khan, Punished Because He’s Muslim

Kafeel Khan, a doctor by profession and a social activist has been targeted by Yogi Government since 2017, in 3 years he had been maliciously arrested 3 times & imprisoned for around 14 months on the false charges set up against him at many instances. Now he is absolved...

Prison Life In India and its Aftermath

Everyone prays to never see the bars of prison in their lifetime. Yet, as fickle as life is, it is quite hard to predict the future. It is in everyone’s benefit to know a little bit about prison life; for movies and cinemas do not do justice to the...