W.P. (C) 536/2011
Petition Seeking Appropriate Directions for Combating the Criminalization of Politics
The five-judge bench led by CJI Dipak Misra, comprising of RF Nariman J., AM Khanwilkar J., DY Chandrachud J., and Indu Malhotra J. gave a unanimous verdict on the matter concerning the Criminalization in Politics.
After carefully analysing legislations, several precedents and Reports by the Law Commission & other Committees in this regard, the Apex Court ruled “…criminalization in politics is a bitter manifest truth, which is a termite to the citadel of democracy, be that as it may, the Court cannot make the law”.
The bench, however, issued certain directions for dealing with criminalization:
- Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein.
- It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal cases pending against the candidate.
- If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her.
- The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents.
- The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers.
While the Top Court is not oblivious to the criminalization in politics and accepts that there may be certain gaps or lacunae in the law, it specifies that the responsibility to bring about any alteration is on the legislature. The Court said:
“We have issued the aforesaid directions with immense anguish, for the Election Commission cannot deny a candidate to contest on the symbol of a party. A time has come that the Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream. It is one thing to take cover under the presumption of innocence of the accused but it is equally imperative that persons who enter public life and participate in law making should be above any kind of serious criminal allegation. It is true that false cases are foisted on prospective candidates, but the same can be addressed by the Parliament through appropriate legislation. The nation eagerly waits for such legislation, for the society has a legitimate expectation to be governed by proper constitutional governance. The voters cry for systematic sustenance of constitutionalism. The country feels agonized when money and muscle power become the supreme power. Substantial efforts have to be undertaken to cleanse the polluted stream of politics by prohibiting people with criminal antecedents so that they do not even conceive of the idea of entering into politics. They should be kept at bay.”