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SC may ban tainted netas fighting polls | India News

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NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine if political parties could be restrained from fielding people with criminal background in elections while expressing concern over growing criminalisation of politics despite several orders passed by the apex court to deal with the problem.

A bench of Justices R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat said something needs to be done in national interest to control the problem after the Election Commission contended criminalisation of politics is going on unabated and SC’s previous verdicts have made virtually no impact.

The court asked the EC and petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay to frame a proposal in a week’s time.

The issue though remains contentious as barring a person who faces charges but has not been convicted may be seen as constitutionally questionable. However, the court has over the years considered the need to stop persons facing serious criminal charges from contesting polls.

The court was hearing a contempt petition filed by BJP leader Upadhyay for non-compliance of a 2018 SC verdict by which both the candidate and parties were mandated to publish criminal record of a candidate in newspapers and TV channels at least three times after nomination papers were filed.

At the outset, senior advocate Vikas Singh, appearing for the Commission, told the bench that the SC’s verdict had not made any impact in controlling the problem as more than 43% of winners in 2019 Lok Sabha elections face criminal proceedings. “The better way to deal with the problem is to ask political parties why they are selecting such candidates. Winnability should not be the only criteria for selecting a candidate and they should be asked not to select people with criminal background. It would have huge impact,” Singh told the bench.

Agreeing with the EC’s contentions, the bench said, “You are right. It is a good suggestion.” Senior advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, appearing for Upadhyay, also supported the plea of the Commission.

The bench thereafter asked both lawyers to sit together and frame a proposal in a week. It said the court will examine the proposal on the next date of hearing. “You both sit together and give us a joint proposal. Do it in a spirit of co-operation and do not treat it as adversarial litigation. Something must be done in national interest,” the bench told them.

Out of 539 winners analysed in Lok Sabha 2019, 233 MPs were found to have criminal antecedents and have declared criminal cases against themselves. However, analysts have also pointed out that politicians are named in cases by hostile governments and that a differentiation should be made as regards heinous crime. There is an increase of 44% in the number of MPs with declared criminal cases since 2009. Nearly 29% of cases relate to rape, murder, attempt to murder or crime against women.

In 2014, 185 Lok Sabha members (34%) had criminal charges and 112 MPs had serious criminal cases against them. In 2009, 162 (nearly 30%) out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs had criminal charges and 14% had serious criminal charges.

Times of India

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