The Leaflet

| @theleaflet_in | September 25,2018

A five-judge Constitution bench consisting of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilker, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra in Public Interest Foundation & Others v. Union of India & others has refused to debar candidates from contesting elections upon framing of serious criminal charges against them. Writing the judgment for the bench, the CJI Dipak Misra has noted: “Directions to the Election Commission, of the nature as sought in the case at hand, may in an idealist world seem to be, at a cursory glance, an antidote to the malignancy of criminalisation in politics but such directions, on a closer scrutiny, clearly reveal that it is not constitutionally permissible. The judicial arm of the State being laden 89 with the duty of being the final arbiter of the Constitution and protector of constitutional ethos cannot usurp the power which it does not have”.

 

Court noted: “In a multi-party democracy, where members are elected on party lines and are subject to party discipline, we recommend to the Parliament to bring out a strong law whereby it is mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges are framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections, both for the Parliament and the State Assemblies

The Court has, however, stressed upon the need to have decriminalisation of politics. Court noted: “In a multi-party democracy, where members are elected on party lines and are subject to party discipline, we recommend to the Parliament to bring out a strong law whereby it is mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges are framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections, both for the Parliament and the State Assemblies. This, in our attentive and plausible view, would go a long way in achieving decriminalisation of politics and usher in an era of immaculate, spotless, unsullied and virtuous constitutional democracy”.    

 

Citizens’ right to know     

Supreme Court has observed: The information given by a candidate must express everything that is warranted by the Election Commission as per law. Disclosure of antecedents makes the election a fair one and the exercise of the right of voting by the electorate also gets sanctified

Supreme Court has observed: The information given by a candidate must express everything that is warranted by the Election Commission as per law. Disclosure of antecedents makes the election a fair one and the exercise of the right of voting by the electorate also gets sanctified. It has to be remembered that such a right is paramount for a democracy. A voter is entitled to have an informed choice. If his right to get proper information is scuttled, in the ultimate eventuate, it may lead to destruction of democracy because he will not be an informed voter having been kept in the dark about the candidates who are accused of heinous offences. In the present scenario, the information given by the candidates is not widely known in the constituency and the multitude of voters really do not come to know about the antecedents. Their right to have information suffers”.

 

 

 

The Court has strongly recommended to the Parliament to make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream

Though the Court refused to declare that a candidate with criminal antecedents stands disqualified for contesting an election upon framing of criminal charges, has issued slew of direction with regard to the disclosure of the antecedents of the candidates and the responsibilities of the political parties. The directions are as follows:

  1. Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein.
  2. It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal cases pending against the candidate.
  3. If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her.
  4. The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents.
  5. The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers.

Additionally, the Court has strongly recommended to the Parliament to make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream.  

READ THE FULL JUDGEMENT HERE

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of

Also Read

Change of tack for Maoists

December 11,2018

Understanding Criminal Law

December 7,2018

#MeToo: A tracker

November 29,2018

Pollution: Law isn't enough

November 27,2018

Raw deal for workers

November 27,2018

After #MeToo, beyond POSH

November 13,2018

Who was Justice Holmes?

October 23,2018

In pursuit of justice

October 9,2018

Humanity deported

October 6,2018

A liberal court

October 3,2018

Ambedkar's feminism

September 18,2018

Azadi for LGBTQI communities

September 8,2018

Mother like no other

September 7,2018

Why Article 35A matters

August 15,2018

Challenges beyond 377

August 13,2018

A positive beginning

August 10,2018

WSS condemn transphobia

August 6,2018

Blame it on Collegium

August 5,2018

Scroll Up