The Supreme Court on Tuesday declined to disqualify candidates, against whom courts have taken cognizance of charge sheets, from contesting elections but urged Parliament to enact a law to address the malaise of criminals entering legislatures.
The apex court said it could not add any further disqualification to the law. At the same time, it directed political parties to post on their websites full details of the criminal charges the candidates they are fielding in elections were facing. The information should also be publicised in the media.
Pronouncing the judgment, a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also said that the law on criminals entering politics should also address fake cases being instituted against political opponents.
The court directed that:
Each contesting candidate must state in bold the criminal cases pending against him/her in the forms to be filed up at the time of filing nomination papers.
The candidate aspiring to contest an election would be required to inform the political party about the criminal cases pending against him.
Political parties should put up on their website the criminal antecedents of the candidates being fielded by them in the elections.
Political parties and the candidate will give wide publicity to the criminal cases pending against the contesting candidate both in print and electronic media after filing their nomination papers.
The apex court said it could not add any further disqualification to the law and it was now up to Parliament to make a law to prevent persons with serious criminal cases against them from entering the legislature.
The Chief Justice wished that such a law might come sooner than later before criminalization of politics sounds the death knell for democracy. It is necessary to cure the cancer of criminalization of politics.