UPSC Colorfull Notes

ADR Report 2024

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) released a report in last week of March 2024, that shows worrying findings about the criminal and financial backgrounds of current Lok Sabha Members of Parliament (MPs). The report is based on an analysis of self-sworn affidavits of the Indian MPs.

High Percentage of MPs Face Criminal Charges

  • 44% of the 514 current Lok Sabha MPs (225 MPs) have declared criminal cases against themselves
  • 29% of these MPs face serious criminal charges like murder, attempt to murder, crimes against women, kidnapping, and promoting communal disharmony
  • BJP has the highest number of MPs with criminal cases (118 out of 294 MPs or 40%), followed by Congress (26 out of 46 MPs or 57%)

Billionaire MPs and Wealth Disparity

  • Of the 514 MPs, 25 are billionaires or have declared assets valued more than Rs 100 crore. That is 5% of the total number of legislators.
  • BJP and Congress have the highest number of billionaire MPs, but other parties also have significant representation
  • The top 3 MPs with the highest declared assets are:
  1. Nakul Nath (Congress)
  2. DK Suresh (Congress)
  3. Kanumuru Raghu Rama Krishna Raju (Independent) from Andhra Pradesh
  • There is a large disparity in wealth among MPs, with some having assets worth hundreds of crores while others have minimal assets

Other Key Findings

  • Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, and Himachal Pradesh have over 50% of their MPs facing criminal charges
  • 73% of the MPs have graduate or higher educational qualifications
  • Only 15% of the current MPs are women

The ADR report highlights the urgent need for greater scrutiny and transparency of elected officials to ensure accountability in Indian democracy. The high percentage of MPs with criminal backgrounds and the wealth disparity among lawmakers raise important questions about the state of India’s political system.

Change in Number of MPs with Criminal Cases Over Time

  • The current ADR report shows a small decrease in the number of MPs with criminal cases compared to the May 2019 report
  • However, since 2009, the number of MPs with declared criminal cases has increased by 44%

Importance of Scrutinizing the Backgrounds of Elected Officials

Scrutinizing the criminal and financial backgrounds of elected officials is important for several reasons:

  1. Maintaining public trust: When MPs have criminal charges or disproportionate wealth, it can erode public trust in the political system
  2. Ensuring effective policy-making: MPs with criminal backgrounds or vested interests may not be able to serve the public interest impartially, leading to ineffective or biased policy decisions
  3. Strengthening democracy: Transparency and accountability are essential for a strong democracy. By demanding greater disclosure and scrutiny of candidates’ backgrounds, citizens can make informed decisions during elections
  4. Holding representatives accountable: Regular scrutiny of MPs’ backgrounds allows citizens to hold their representatives accountable for their actions and ensures they are serving the public interest

Dealing with Criminal Charges Against Politicians in Other Countries

In some countries, candidates with serious criminal records cannot contest elections at all, for example countries like Portugal and Denmark have laws that can temporarily bar candidates convicted of certain crimes from running for Political office.

Measures to Improve the Situation

To address the concerning findings of the ADR report, several measures can be considered:

Electoral Reforms

  • Strengthen eligibility criteria for candidates
  • Implement stricter background checks
  • Establish a robust framework for disqualification
  • Ensure swift disposal of cases against politicians

Citizen Engagement

  • Civil society organizations and voters should demand transparency and accountability from their representatives
  • Citizens should actively participate in the democratic process, question candidates’ backgrounds, and make informed voting decisions

Political Party Reforms

  • Political parties should adopt internal mechanisms to screen candidates and prioritize those with clean records
  • Encourage a culture of integrity and accountability within parties

Media and Watchdog Role

  • The media and watchdog organizations like ADR should continue investigating and exposing the criminal and financial backgrounds of politicians
  • Their efforts in disseminating information and raising public awareness are essential for fostering a more transparent and accountable political system
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