Publicise criminal records of candidates: SC to political parties

CJI urges Parliament to address the malice of criminals entering legislature

New Delhi.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed political parties to post on their websites and publicise in the media full details of the criminal charges the candidates they are fielding in elections are facing.

Pronouncing the judgment, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also urged Parliament to enact a law to address the malice of criminals entering the legislature. He also said this law should address fake cases being instituted against political opponents.

“Let such candidates get tickets. The party must announce their criminal records,” CJI Dipak Misra, who is heading a five-judge bench, said on Tuesday.

His remarks came after the Election Commission, through senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, argued that the poll panel had expressed its views that the disclosure clauses in the law were not effective as they were restricted to filing affidavits during the filing of nomination papers.

The panel, she said, had in fact asked the government to give more teeth to court rulings which make it mandatory for a candidate to reveal his educational qualifications, assets and liabilities and criminal records while filing papers.

The EC contended that these revelations were not effective as they remained confined to the EC official website. How many persons have access to Internet in an illiterate country, she asked. She urged the court to extend the disclosures to the prenomination stage and make it mandatory for both the parties and their tainted candidates to publish such information in the media and disseminate it to the public at large.

The voter has a right to know, she argued. The government, she said, had been sitting on the suggestion made way back in 1997. “It is 2018 now,” she said. Parliament has made no law so far, she said, accusing lawmakers of failing to act on the EC suggestion.

The SC had earlier refused to frame a law that would curb all those against whom charges have been framed from entering the electoral fray. That is in the parliamentary domain, Misra had said. The bench had, however, said that it may tweak the symbols’ rules to get the EC to restrain political parties from fielding tainted candidates. Tainted candidates could, however, contest as independents, the court had said.

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