In Supreme Court, Plea For Action On Parties That Hide Candidates' Crimes

"Can we prevent persons who have cases against them from filing nomination?", the Chief Justice of India asked

In Supreme Court, Plea For Action On Parties That Hide Candidates' Crimes

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear a petition seeking de-registration of political parties that do not make public criminal background of their candidates.

Mentioning the petition before a bench led by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought directions to the Election Commission on this.

When Mr Upadhyay pointed to the ongoing nomination process in the five states headed to Assembly polls, the Chief Justice of India asked, "Can we prevent persons who have cases against them from filing nomination?". The court then said, "You have mentioned, we will consider."

The bench, however, did not specify any date for hearing the matter even though Mr Upadhyay had sought urgent listing.  

The petition seeks a directive to the Election Commission to ensure that all parties publish on their website details regarding criminal cases against its candidates and the reason for their selection.

The petition also seeks that every politician makes details of cases against them public in electronic, print, and social media. The plea also wants contempt cases filed against president of the party that violates these directions.

In February 2020, the Supreme Court had directed that political parties must publish details of criminal cases against its candidates on their websites, local and national newspapers and on the social media within 48 hours of choosing the candidates or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.  

Last year, the court found nine parties guilty of not following its directives. The court also modified its earlier order and said details regarding criminal background "shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate" as the second condition is difficult to be implemented owing to statutory provisions.

The court has also directed that a criminal case against an MP or MLA can be withdrawn only after consent from the High Court concerned.

The fresh petition says that Samajwadi Party has fielded alleged gangster Nahid Hasan from Kairana assembly in Uttar Pradesh but not published his criminal records in electronic, print or social media as per the Supreme Court directions.

The consequences of letting criminals contest polls and become legislators are extremely serious for democracy and secularism, the petition says.

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