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Post at: Sep 08 2021

Criminalisation of Politics

Recent

  • Recently, on August 10, 2021 a bench of Supreme Court having Justices R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai, found that nine political parties – Congress, BJP, JD(U), RJD, LJP, CPI(M), CPI, RLSP and NCP – are guilty of contempt for not following in letter and spirit of Supreme Court’s February 13, 2020 direction to publish details of criminal cases against candidates fielded in Lok Sabha and Assembly polls.

Background

  • The judgment came on a plea filed by Advocate Brajesh Singh, which sought contempt of court proceedings against leaders of the political parties as well as the Chief Election Commissioner for allegedly flouting the court’s orders in the run-up to the 2020 Bihar assembly elections.

Details of Judgment

  • The court said it has decided to take a “lenient view of the matter”, as it was the first elections conducted after issuance of its directions.
  • The court warned the parties that they should be cautious in future and ensure that the directions issued by this court as well as the ECI [Election Commission of India] are followed in letter and spirit.
  • It asked the Congress, BJP, JD(U), RJD, LJP, CPI and RLSP to deposit Rs. 1 lakh each in an account created by the ECI within eight weeks.
  • Also the court regards CPI(M) and NCP to deposit Rs 5 lakh each in the account as these parties have not at all complied with the directions issued by this court.

Causes of Criminalization of Politics

  • The most important cause of criminalization of politics is the unholy nexus between the politicians and bureaucracy. This undesirable and dangerous relationship between bureaucracy and political leaders opened the doors of criminalization of politics. Caste and religion both are responsible for the criminalization of politics. Some of the major reasons of the criminalization of the politics can be enlisted as –
  • Vote Bank: The political parties and individual have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through which these people's are so called goondas. A politician's link with then constituency provides the congenial climate to political crime.
  • Corruption: Corruption is also plays very important role in criminalization of politics. Every political member corrupted. He can do anything with their powers.
  • Quota System: The quota system is also fully responsible for this. And it is also found that a minister of a particular caste or religion will distribute favour to the members of his own caste and religion. It is found in many states of India.

Landmark Decisions in Decriminalising Politics

Measure can be taken to Reduce Criminalisation of Politics

  1. There should be an amendment in the Representation of People Act, 1951 to debar the persons from contesting elections against whom crimes of heinous nature are pending.
  2. Fast-track courts should deal with the cases of politicians with criminal records. Fast-track courts are necessary because the politicians have the power to keep on delaying the judicial proceedings and serve for decades before any prosecution takes place.
  3. The Political parties should themselves refuse tickets to the tainted candidates.
  4. Persons who have been punished with a jail term of more than 7 years should not be given a right to contest elections before the High Court grants permission.
  5. Awareness should be created about NOTA (none of the above) and such other options to prevent the criminals from winning elections.
  6. The penalty should be inflicted on the political parties who give tickets to the criminals to contest in elections.
  7. Adequate measures must be taken by the Election Commission in order to break the link between the criminals and politicians.

Conclusion

  • The criminalisation of politics and corruption hits the roots of democracy. The criminalization of politics needs a multi-pronged approach in order to be tackled. Mere institutional implementations have never succeeded in the elimination of any evil.
  • There should be wide publicity of the candidates with criminal records, who are contesting in an election and the political parties that give them support.
  • Effective controls must be vested into the Election Commissions hands by the Legislature.
  • Reforming the political process is only the part of the process. The government machinery must be restructured and reorganized so as to weed out the criminals from the system.

 


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