Waris Itoo & Reyaz Ahmad Khan

The upcoming Bihar elections will be the India’s first election that requires all political parties to disclose both in national and local newspapers as well as on political parties’ social media handles the complete criminal history of their candidates along with the reasons to field such suspected criminals. Previously, in a series of judgements, the Supreme Court has directed to ensure asset disclosure and the NOTA option in voting machines. It has also directed for establishing special and fast-track courts in all states for quick disposal of cases involving elected representatives. However, voters also have to play their part in the substantial working of democracy. Statistics suggest that voters don’t mind electing candidates facing deplorable cases.
Electoral reforms are urgently needed to ensure there is no place for a political mafia. Data from the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) has revealed that almost 41% out of the 543 elected MPs in the 2019 Lok Sabha have some kind of criminal case pending against them. In the case of over 110 MPs, the cases were of a very severe nature, such as rape, crimes against women, and kidnapping. The ADR recently assessed that there are more than 1600 MPs and MLAs in Parliament and state legislatures with scandalous cases pending against them. The use of unchecked muscle and money power, lack of prosecution, and the poor implementation of the model code of conduct are some reasons that enable such criminality in politics. It projects a black image of India’s state institutions and its elected representatives.

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