The New Indian Express
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: With the Supreme Court putting the onus on Prime Minister and Chief Ministers to ensure that people having criminal and corruption cases against them do not make it to the Council of Ministers, an analysis by a civil society group on Friday revealed that 44 (23 per cent) out of 194 state Cabinet Ministers from 13 Assemblies and 12 (27 per cent) out of 45 Union Ministers have self-declared criminal cases against themselves.

The analysis by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) finds serious charges like attempt to murder against Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, criminal intimidation against Union Rural Development Minister Nitin Gadkari and Union Women & Child Development Minister Maneka Gandhi and charges of rioting against Union Health Minister Harshvardhan.

And Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister Ram Vilas Paswan and Minister of State for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation Upendra Kushwaha face charges of graft.

The analysis finds that it is not just ministers but even two Chief Ministers-- K Chandrasekhar Rao of Telangana and N Chandrababu Naidu of Andhra Pradesh -- figure in criminal cases. Telangana has the highest -- 90 per cent of ministers with criminal cases followed by Andhra Pradesh (56 per cent), Karnataka (34 per cent) and Odisha (27 per cent).         

On the positive side, the analysis found that none of the ministers from Chhattisgarh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland, Tripura and Sikkim had declared criminal cases against themselves. The ADR also analysed self-sworn affidavits of 541 out of 543 MPs in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections filed before the Election Commission and found that 34 per cent of them face criminal charges. It was 30 per cent in 2009 and 24 per cent in 2004. There are 26 (13 per cent) state ministers who have declared serious criminal cases against themselves while seven out of 45 Union Ministers have declared serious criminal cases.

The PM had emphasised on the need to cleanse  political system of criminals.

He had requested the Supreme Court to expedite the pending cases against any member of Parliament and decide them within a year. Modi had also sought cooperation from members in both the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha to restore the  people’s confidence in Indian polity.

A Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court on August 27 observed that it is not the prerogative of the Apex court to disqualify ministers facing criminal charges and it is the collective responsibility of the Prime Minister and the CMs to keep those people, against whom charges have been framed in criminal and corruption cases, out of their Cabinet.

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