Source: 
State Times
https://statetimes.in/politicians-have-no-intentions-to-decriminalize-the-politics/
Author: 
Mahadeep Singh Jamwal
Date: 
22.11.2023
City: 

With reference to the title of the write up, I will say, ‘YES’, this is because of the reasons they themselves are neck deep into this quagmire of criminal world. They are cunning foxes and know that such arrows in their quiver have also brought the Cabinet births for them otherwise they would have been brooming in Jails. {Of the 78 ministers in the cabinet, 33 (42%) have declared criminal cases against them in their election affidavits – ADR (source: https://indianexpress.com / https://thewire.in}. The criminality is a powerful tool with them to cast aspirations on voting patterns in elections and thereby sneak into parliament and become law makers whereas as such law breakers should have been dumped into jails. Usually we notice much bro-ha-ha on criminalization of politics but on ‘Law Makers’ it goes as ‘Kaan par yoo na rengna’. Although there are many Apex Court Judgments and many directions of the ‘Election Commission of India’ on the subject, political parties are habitual of flouting such directives as these go against their political interests. On the other hand, such corrective measures are of least concern to the voters as they always look for freebies like rice, Atta, Daal, the commodities for their sustenance.

A traverse into the Timeline on Supreme Court Judgments on decimalization of politics, we find in a petition ‘Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India’, Constitution Bench on 25/09/2018 have issued directions for publication of criminal cases against contesting candidates. This directive of Apex Court was not taken very seriously as such in a contempt petition, on 13th February 2020 the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Rambabu Singh Thakur Vs. Sunil Arora and others, ordered political parties to list out reasons on their website including their social media platforms for nominating candidates with criminal background within 72 hours of the selection of such candidates. Going one step further, the Supreme Court in its directions had also specifically instructed political parties to give reasons for such selection and why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates. In compliance with Supreme Court orders the Election Commission also issued guidelines titled ‘Guidelines on publicity of criminal antecedents by political parties and candidates’. The criminalization in politics is a bitter manifest truth, which is a termite in the citadel of democracy and Lawmakers have completely failed in taking any concrete step/action against growing criminalization in Indian elections and not even follow the Apex Court Directives or from any Constitutional Authority such as Election Commission of India (ECI). In 2021, commenting that “The nation continues to wait, and is losing patience. Cleansing the polluted stream of politics is obviously not one of the immediate pressing concerns of the legislative branch of government”, in a contempt petition the Supreme Court imposed fine on political parties including Janata Dal-United (JD-U), the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party of India (CPI) for committing contempt of court by flouting the directions given in its February 2020 judgment for publication of the criminal antecedents of candidates during the Bihar assembly polls held in Oct-Nov 2020 during.

The act of blatant and willful disregard of the Supreme Court orders and simultaneous guidelines issued by the Election Commission on publication of criminal cases against candidates also goes against the spirit of ‘democracy’ and constitutional propriety as enshrined under the India Constitution. It must be borne in mind that when political parties are registered with the ECI under Section 29A (5), they are required to bear a true allegiance to the constitution which includes ‘democracy’ and ‘Rule of Law’. Democracy under Constitution indicates a participatory democracy with a level playing field devoid of criminality and money power and therefore, this act of political parties of repeatedly selecting tainted candidates and neglecting the credible, honest and deserving candidates as also asked by the Apex Court surely goes against such ethos. Here The Election Commission should use its wide powers under Article 324 of the Constitution read with Section 29 (Part IV-A) of the RP Act, 1951 and immediately de-registers these political parties that are found guilty of such failure to abide by the lawful instructions of The Election Commission.

At this juncture, we come across ‘Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR)’ that do disclosure of the criminal, financial, and educational background of the candidates contesting elections with the objective to improve governance and strengthen democracy through continuous work in the area of electoral and political reforms, corruption and criminalization in the political process, empowerment of the electorate through greater dissemination of information relating to the candidates and the parties, for a better and informed choice, need for greater accountability of Indian Political Parties, need for inner-party democracy and transparency in party-functioning. The deliberate act of contempt by political parties of the directions dated 13th February, 2020 and 25th September, 2018 was also brought to the notice of Hon’ble Supreme Court and in its order dated 17th March 2023, the Hon’ble court had directed ADR to pursue its remedies before the Election Commission of India. The ADR has approached the ECI through a request letter dated 19th of June, 2023, addressed to Shri Rajiv Kumar, Chief Election Commissioner, Shri Anup Chandra Pandey and Shri Arun Goel Election Commissioners, for an immediate action against political parties and their office bearers for willful disobedience and blatant disregard of the lawful directions of the Election Commission of India issued in pursuance to the Supreme Court judgments. Now we have to see ‘how the wind blows’.

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