Pragya Singh Thakur, wearing garlands and the saffron robes of a Hindu ascetic, is a candidate for the Bharatiya Janata Party. That she faces terrorism charges, in connection with a bomb blast that killed seven people in 2008 has not deterred her or the party.

Ms. Thakur’s situation, however, is not uncommon.

When the Association for Democratic Reforms, an independent think tank, looked through the criminal records of almost all 5,478 candidates in the first half of the general election, the findings were staggering.

About a third of the candidates had some sort of pending criminal case against them. And 13 percent faced serious charges, including allegations of corruption, assault, murder and rape.

Neither of the two main national parties, the governing B.J.P. or the opposition Congress party, fared very well in the reports.

Candidates with criminal backgrounds usually end up winning, said Anil Verma, a retired Army officer who leads the Association for Democratic Reforms.

Many of them have more campaign money and deliver results at a local level, Mr. Verma said. They also earn goodwill with small acts, he said, like “donating money for somebody’s daughter’s wedding.”

“It’s a travesty but that’s how it is in our country.”

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