An essential component of a constitutional democracy is its ability to secure for its citizenry a freely and fairly elected government comprising members of high integrity and morality, the Supreme Court said today.
A five-judge constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said that informed choice was the cornerstone of democracy and asked the legislature to consider framing a law to ensure decriminalisation of politics.
"An essential component of a constitutional democracy is its ability to give and secure for its citizenry a representative form of government, elected freely and fairly, and comprising of a polity whose members are men and women of high integrity and morality. This could be said to be the hallmark of any free and fair democracy," the bench said.
The bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls, and termed as "unsettling" the criminalisation of politics in the world's largest democracy.