The Times of India
New Delhi

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court order setting a year's deadline for lower courts to dispose of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs could adversely impact the political future of several politicians. As many as 162 of 543 sitting parliamentarians — or 30% — have criminal cases pending against them, of which 76 (14% of all MPs) face serious charges including murder, kidnapping and extortion.Besides, nearly half the assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Maharashtra, Delhi and Jharkhand are also likely to be hit with about 30% of their MLAs facing criminal charges. 

Politicians with criminal and corruption cases against them who get elected in the coming Lok Sabha polls may lose their membership by May next year if found guilty and sentenced to more than two years imprisonment. The SC order will also have a sanitizing effect on political parties and ensure that they do not field candidates with criminal background. 

So far, despite professions to curbing corruption, political parties remain undeterred in fielding corrupt candidates or those with criminal antecedents. In fact, of 70 candidates who have been re-nominated till now by various political parties for the 2014 general elections, 49% have criminal cases pending against them. 

According to data analyzed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) based on election affidavits filed in 2009, 34 of the 70 re-contesting candidates have 224 criminal cases against them with 29% facing serious criminal charges. Of these, Shiv Sena has 12 out of 14 candidates (86%) with criminal cases, BJP has 13 out of 32 (41%), NCP has 8 out of 13 (62%) and AIADMK has one out of 6 (17%) candidates with criminal cases. 

On the SC order, ADR co-founder Jagdeep Chhokar said, "The accumulation of data by ADR for the last 13 years has made it impossible for the court to ignore criminalization in politics and hopefully will make it impossible for political parties to do so as well.'' Chhokar, however, added that the order would only be effective if implemented with zeal. 

Of the 162 MPs with pending criminal cases in Lok Sabha 2009, 14% or 76 MPs face serious charges including murder, kidnapping and extortion. Dishearteningly, the number of parliamentarians charged with crime has increased from 128 in the 2004 Lok Sabha to 162 in 2009. Of these 162, 44 each belong to Congress and BJP while nine belong to Samajwadi Party, six to BSP, eight to JD(U) and four each to Trinamool, DMK, BJD, NCP, AIADMK

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