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Date: 
17.03.2021
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 The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in selection of candidates for the first phase of the Assam Assembly Elections 2021, according to an analysis of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) along with Assam Election Watch.

ADR, a non-partisan NGO, which works in the area of electoral and political reforms, observed that the political parties have again followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 16 percent candidates with criminal cases.

“All major parties contesting in the first phase have given tickets to 8 to 23 percent candidates who have declared criminal cases against themselves,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The Supreme Court in its directions on February 13, 2020 had specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.

According to the mandatory guidelines, the reasons for such selection have to be with reference to qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate concerned.

“Out of 259 candidates analysed, 41 (16 percent) candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves while 34 (13 percent) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves,” the statement said.

“Among the major parties, 10 (23 percent) out of 43 candidates analysed from Indian National Congress (INC), 8(20 percent) out of 41 candidates analysed from Assam Jatiya Parishad, 3 (eight percent) out of 39 candidates analysed from BJP and one candidate each from NCP (Nationalist Congress Party), AGP (Asom Gana Parishad) and Socialist Unity Centre of India (Communist) have declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits,” it said.

“Among the major parties, 9 (21 percent) out of 43 candidates analysed from INC, 6 (15 percent) out of 41 candidates analysed from Assam Jatiya Parishad, 3 (8 percent) out of 39 candidates analysed from BJP and one candidate each from NCP, AGP and SUCI(C) have declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits,” it added.

Five candidates have declared cases related to crime against women. Out of them, one candidate has declared cases related to rape (IPC Section-376).

Two candidates have declared cases related to murder (IPC Section-302) against themselves.

Four candidates have declared cases related to attempt to murder (IPC Section-307) against themselves.

Three (6 percent) out of the 47 constituencies in the first phase polls are ‘Red Alert’ constituencies.

‘Red Alert’ constituencies are those where three or more contesting candidates have declared criminal cases against themselves.

During the recent Bihar Assembly elections held in October 2020 it was observed that political parties gave unfounded and baseless reasons like “popularity of the person, does good social work, cases are politically motivated etc.”

“These are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds. This data clearly shows that political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers,” the statement said.

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