Choice and Willingness: About Crime and Politics - Editorial
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Choice and Willingness: About Crime and Politics - Editorial

If criminals regularly get elected and gain access to the public office then very soon, they will manage to erode the system totally.

· 5 min read

Introduction

Criminalization of politics is an important topic to have conversed in any democratic framework, it is much and often the topic of discussion that pops up every now and then, as a result, the Indian Govt. and the governance & administrative system’s authenticity is often doubted.

Sometimes the government lost track of its licit standing and genuineness due to the participation of an individual with serious criminal backgrounds.

Held at gunpoint
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Many alleged criminals and legally declared offenders often successfully get elected as public representatives and gain access to public office, jeopardizing the idea of democracy in India and its governance structure. Although, there needs to be measures in place to limit or restrain these criminals and offenders from entering politics at all costs.

If criminals regularly get elected and gain access to the public office then very soon, they will manage to erode the system totally. The shortfall and paucity of wise or more eligible candidacies in politics may be harmful to future growth.

Background Context

With the Apex Court verdict that it is mandatory for all political parties to issue all the details of candidates having criminal backgrounds and history on the internet and other publishing platform, Experts & analysts debate on whether the verdict will discourage political parties from selecting such candidates in the near future. While some believe, the Apex Court judgment will initiate the preclusion and curb criminals from Indian politics, some others say that it's too early to conclude on this topic.

Photo by Max Kleinen / Unsplash

43% of Elected MPs have Criminal Background: ADR

Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) mentions more than 50% of the fresh new elected MPs of the lower house (Lok Sabha) have serious criminal charges registered against them, put this into numbers and we see an immediate increase of 26% in comparison to elections of 2014. This is a very worrying thing in the context of Indian politics.

2019 Elections

  1. Total number of winning MPs: 539 (2109)
  2. Total number of MPs with a criminal background: 233 (43%)

2014 Elections

  1. Total number of MPs with a criminal background: 185 (34%)
  2. Total number of MPs with a serious criminal background: 112 (34%)

2009 Elections

  1. Total number of winning MPs: 543 (2009)
  2. Total number of MPs with a criminal background: 162 (30%)
  3. Total number of MPs with a serious criminal background: 78 (14%)

According to the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), 29% of cases involved serious criminal offenses such as homicide, rape & murder, plan and attempt to murder, and series of crimes against women. Taking into account the last ten years' data & information from ADR, there is an immediate 109% rise [in 2019] in MPs (with serious criminal cases registered against them) getting elected and gaining access to public office since 2009.

Apex Court says Decriminalisation of Indian Politics is Important

  1. The Apex Court had passed the judgment on the contumacy petitions concerning the criminalization of politics in India and the disobedience and resistance of the commands of a Constitution Bench of Supreme Court in common Public Interest Foundation and Ors. v. Union of India and Anr. (2019) with reference to the decriminalization of Indian politics.
  2. Primarily the contumacy petitions were put forward before the Apex Court in consequence that its commands weren't deployed in the successive Assembly elections and general elections since the EC of India failed to adapt and adjust the Election Symbols Order and the Pre-defined Standard Code of Conduct.
  3. On this, to some extent very gripping set of directions was published by the court in the practice of Articles 129 and Article 142 of the Indian Constitution.
  4. As per the commands, it's now compulsory for political parties to publish on their party website the detailed background information of the potential candidates for election, this has pending and ongoing registered criminal cases (clearly mentioning the nature of the offenses, and related details like whether charges are deliberately framed, the concerned court and dates (if available), the case details i.e. case number, date of filing, parties involved, etc.), moreover the complete justification for the selection of a candidate with offensive antecedents over candidates without any criminal background.
  5. Many experts and analysts believe, these efforts of disclosing the background details of the candidates won’t help attend the intended results as the respective Election Commission and Electorate are completely informed about the criminal background of the individual contesting the election.

Different views from Central Government

  1. The Centre had affirmed that the judiciary and the legislative should be working parallel but not intersect by asking for pre-condition and prerequisites which may negatively affect the right of the individual to participate in contesting elections. However, the already existing provision of the RP Act fits well with the scenario of disqualification.
  2. Centre says that denial to an individual to participate in contesting the election on his/her party ticket would also account for denial of his/her right to vote, it already includes the right to contest the election. This, they mentioned the assumption of individual innocence until a person is found guilty.
  3. Centre also mentions that the court should consider the innocence of the candidate on the ground that, 70% of the cases are resolved and individuals (MPs) contenting election are proven by the verdict not guilty.
  4. Centre says the parliament has already made a clear distinction between proved convicts and the accused, and there is an existing provision for appropriate disqualification.
  5. The Election Commission had taken a stand, seemingly against the Centre, and mentioned that the suggestion for decriminalizing Indian politics was put forward back in 1997-98 exclusively by the Law Commission and the Poll Panel but no actions we initiated.
  6. It proposed the court issue the command or pathway in the scenario other than asking the respective Parliament to form the suitable, appropriate, and acceptable law.

However, it's crucial and critical to acknowledge that Constitutional establishment, similar to the Election Commission (EC), the Apex Court, the Commission for Central Information, the administrative, judicial, and administrative bureaucracy, and all types of media provide tons to the present work.

In certain situations, the political parties and the Indian parliament also made a contribution, however, the role of civil society is remarkable, it requires working for the demographic establishments.

Conclusion

The cardinal truth is, what the electorate fails to know or may have chosen to remain unknown is that criminal individuals representing political parties could undertake some petty and unimportant causes concerning their interest, but this has unfortunately influenced the quality of policymaking and has favored nepotism & cronyism and ultimately the corruption, which has a huge negative effect on overall national socio-economic growth and development.

The elected representative, representing the public office, are expected to and instructed to represent indirectly the concerns and aspirations of the people/community by whom they get elected and whom they represent, be accountable for them, fair and honest in the actions and work undertaken for their betterment and upliftment.

Crime and Politics - Political Candidate with Criminal Background