Criminalization of Politics
- The Rising number of elected representatives with criminal backgrounds in Parliament and State legislature is a matter of deep concern to all law abiding and right minded citizens.
- Only a time bound justice delivery mechanism, firmer steps by Election Commission of India and a proper strengthening of relevant laws can cleanse the body politic of this evil.
- It is high time, All political parties came together and developed a consensus on keeping criminals- some of them with serious criminal charges including kidnapping, rape, murder, grave corruption and crimes against women out of the system.
- The increasing trend of criminalisation of politics is linked to political control of state machinery, corruption, vote bank politics and above all, loopholes in the legal system.
- It is not fair to expect probity and integrity from bureaucracy if it is controlled in large measure, by criminals.
- Over the years there have been some attempts at decriminalising politics.
- The Vohra Committee set up by the centre in 1993 sounded warning that some political leaders become leaders of gangs/armed senas and get themselves elected to local bodies, state assemblies and the national parliament.
- Supreme Court in 2002 ruled that every candidate contesting election has to declare his criminal and financial records along with educational qualifications.
- Further in 2005, Supreme Court ruled that a sitting MP or MLA will be disqualified from contesting the election if convicted and sentenced for imprisonment for two years or more by a court of law.
- In 2014, the apex court accepted the Law Commission recommendations and passed order directing that trial courts against sitting MPs and MLAs should be concluded within a year of charges being framed and conducted on day to day basis.
What is the criminalisation of politics?
The criminalisation of politics means the rising participation of criminals and people facing criminal charges in politics. The term indicates people with criminal backgrounds becoming politicians and elected representatives. According to Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), Nearly half of the recently elected Lok Sabha members have criminal charges against them.
What the law says?
Section 8 Representation of People Act 1951 leads to disqualification on conviction for certain offences, according to which an individual punished with a jail term of more than two years cannot stand in an election for six years after the jail term has ended.
What are consequences of criminalisation of politics?
- The presence of people with criminal backgrounds in politics and law-making of the country has negative impacts on the quality of democracy in the country.
- Huge amounts of illegal money flow into the electoral process due to extensive links with the criminal underworld.
- The criminalisation of politics also has the consequence of obstructing the process of justice and causing delays in trials.
- Criminals entering politics further increases corruption in public life and has an adverse negative impact on the state institutions including the bureaucracy, the executive, the legislature and the judiciary.
- The criminalisation of politics introduces a culture of violence in society and sets a bad precedent for the society.
What are the case laws to prevent criminalisation of politics?
- In Union of India (UOI) v. Association for Democratic Reforms, 2002,the SC held that candidates, contesting an election to the Parliament or State Legislatures or Municipal Corporation have to declare their criminal records, financial records and educational qualifications.
- In Ramesh Dalal vs. Union of India, 2005,the SC held that a sitting MP or MLA shall also be subject to disqualification from contesting elections if he is convicted and sentenced to not less than 2 years of imprisonment by a court of law.
- In Public Interest Foundation and Ors. v Union of India 2014, the SC had ordered that trials, in relation to sitting MPs and MLAs be concluded within a year of charges against them being framed.
- In Public Interest Foundation vs Union of India case, 2018, had also directed political parties to publish online the pending criminal cases of their candidates.
- State funding of elections.
- Section 8 of RPA needed to be amended to disqualify all persons facing charges related to grave and heinous offences and corruption.
- Awareness among voters.
NEWS– Political Parties are increasingly leaning on criminals for wining power. Criminalisation of politics is hurting the country.
Syllabus- Mains; GS-3; Criminalization of Politics