New Delhi

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has often talked about decriminalisation of politics, but the fact remains that about onetenth of the members of the new Lok Sabha are tainted as 53 MPs have declared criminal cases against them and would face disqualification if they are convicted.

The matter gains significance in the light of Supreme Court's March 10 ruling directing all trial courts to expedite and conclude cases against MPs and MLAs within a year from the date of framing of charges.

An analysis by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed that 53 of the 541 lawmakers have declared criminal cases in which charges have been framed under Section 8(1) or Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act. Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti is one of them. Interestingly, 23 of the tainted MPs were elected to the Lok Sabha for the first time.

As far as parties are concerned, the BJP, which registered a massive victory in the Lok Sabha polls, had the maximum number of tainted MPs with 24. Its ally in Maharashtra, Shiv Sena, was at the number two with five tainted parliamentarians. The analysis by ADR showed 10 MPs have declared criminal cases in which charges were framed under Section 8(1) of the RP Act, and would face immediate disqualification if convicted. Another 10 MPs had declared criminal cases in which charges were framed under both Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the RP Act.

Urging the PM

ADR urged the Prime Minister to deliver on his promise of a taint-free Parliament by 2015. ADR founder member Jagdeep Chhokar said, "Towards this end, we urge the Prime Minister to write to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to ensure that all pending criminal cases against MPs are decided within a year of the date on which the results of the election were announced. Secondly, we request that a unanimous resolution be passed by both Houses of Parliament requesting the Chief Justice to ensure this."

Chhokar said the BJP government could easily act on the issue as it had secured a good mandate in the polls. The average pendency in criminal cases declared by MPs under Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the RP Act is 10 years.

Chhokar noted that Prime Minister Modi had often referred to de-criminalisation of politics in his speeches both before and after the BJP's victory. In his speech in the Rajya Sabha, Modi emphasised the urgent need to cleanse Parliament of members with tainted records through judicial mechanism within one year.

In the speech in the upper House on June 11, Modi had said the Parliament should be free of tainted people. "In our country, whether we want it or not, there is a stain on the dignity of our Houses. There is an ongoing discussion that the people who are elected to the House have criminal background. Whether they are five, six or seven, a perception has been formed," he had said.

He further said, "It is our collective responsibility that we free both Houses from this taint and a good solution to this is to collectively decide and request the Supreme Court that if there are any MPs against whom an FIR is lodged, the cases should be expedited through the judicial mechanism and the situation should become clear within a year."

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