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SC leaves it to Parliament to enact legislation

By The Assam Tribune
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NEW DELHI, Sept 25 - The Supreme Court on Tuesday left it to Parliament to �cure the malignancy� of criminalisation of politics by making a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena as the �polluted stream of politics� needs to be cleansed.

Holding that criminalisation of politics is an �extremely disastrous and lamentable situation�, the apex court said this �unsettlingly increasing trend� in the country has the propensity to �send shivers down the spine of a constitutional democracy�.

It said the nation was �eagerly� waiting for such legislation as the society has legitimate expectation to be governed by proper constitutional governance and citizens in a democracy cannot be compelled to stand as �silent, deaf and mute spectators� to corruption by projecting themselves as helpless.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said malignancy of criminalisation of politics was �not incurable� but the issue was required to be dealt with soon before it becomes �fatal� to the democracy.

Passing a slew of directions aimed at de-criminalisation of politics, giving citizens an �informed choice� and infusing a culture of purity in politics, the bench said that increasing trend of criminalisation of politics tends to disrupt constitutional ethos and strikes at the very root of our democratic form of government.

�A time has come that the Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream,� said the bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, in the unanimous 100-page verdict.

�We are sure, the law making wing of the democracy of this country will take it upon itself to cure the malignancy,� it said.

It also recommended that Parliament bring out a �strong law� whereby it would be mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges were framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections for Parliament as also State Assemblies.

The bench directed that each contesting candidate will have to fill up the form provided by the Election Commission of India and he or she will have to state �in bold letters� about the criminal cases pending against the candidate.

�If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her,� it said, adding that �the concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents�.

The top court directed that candidate and the concerned political party will have to issue a declaration in widely circulated newspapers in the locality and in electronic media about his or her antecedents.

�When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers,� it said.

The bench said that complete information about criminal antecedents of the candidates forms the �bedrock of wise decision-making and informed choice by the citizenry� as informed choice was the cornerstone to have a pure and strong democracy.

�The voters cry for systematic sustenance of constitutionalism. The country feels agonized when money and muscle power become the supreme power,� it said.

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SC leaves it to Parliament to enact legislation

NEW DELHI, Sept 25 - The Supreme Court on Tuesday left it to Parliament to �cure the malignancy� of criminalisation of politics by making a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena as the �polluted stream of politics� needs to be cleansed.

Holding that criminalisation of politics is an �extremely disastrous and lamentable situation�, the apex court said this �unsettlingly increasing trend� in the country has the propensity to �send shivers down the spine of a constitutional democracy�.

It said the nation was �eagerly� waiting for such legislation as the society has legitimate expectation to be governed by proper constitutional governance and citizens in a democracy cannot be compelled to stand as �silent, deaf and mute spectators� to corruption by projecting themselves as helpless.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said malignancy of criminalisation of politics was �not incurable� but the issue was required to be dealt with soon before it becomes �fatal� to the democracy.

Passing a slew of directions aimed at de-criminalisation of politics, giving citizens an �informed choice� and infusing a culture of purity in politics, the bench said that increasing trend of criminalisation of politics tends to disrupt constitutional ethos and strikes at the very root of our democratic form of government.

�A time has come that the Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream,� said the bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, in the unanimous 100-page verdict.

�We are sure, the law making wing of the democracy of this country will take it upon itself to cure the malignancy,� it said.

It also recommended that Parliament bring out a �strong law� whereby it would be mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges were framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections for Parliament as also State Assemblies.

The bench directed that each contesting candidate will have to fill up the form provided by the Election Commission of India and he or she will have to state �in bold letters� about the criminal cases pending against the candidate.

�If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her,� it said, adding that �the concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents�.

The top court directed that candidate and the concerned political party will have to issue a declaration in widely circulated newspapers in the locality and in electronic media about his or her antecedents.

�When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers,� it said.

The bench said that complete information about criminal antecedents of the candidates forms the �bedrock of wise decision-making and informed choice by the citizenry� as informed choice was the cornerstone to have a pure and strong democracy.

�The voters cry for systematic sustenance of constitutionalism. The country feels agonized when money and muscle power become the supreme power,� it said.

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