NEW DELHI, 10 Aug: Cleansing the polluted stream of politics is obviously not one of the immediate concerns of the legislative branch of the government, even as the nation continues to wait and is “losing patience,” the Supreme Court said on Tuesday.
People with criminal antecedents should not be permitted to be lawmakers, but repeated appeals by the court to take steps to bring necessary amendments to prohibit their involvement in politics have fallen on the deaf ears and political parties have refused to wake up from deep slumber, the apex court said.
Observing that the menace of criminalization in Indian political system is growing day by day, the court referred to the constitutional scheme of separation of powers and said that, though it desires that something urgently is required to be done in the matter, its hands are tied and it cannot transgress into the area reserved for the legislative arm of the state.
“The nation continues to wait, and is losing patience. Cleansing the polluted stream of politics is obviously not one of the immediate pressing concerns of the legislative branch of government,” a bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai said.
The bench said it can only appeal to the conscience of lawmakers and hope that they will wake up soon and carry out a major surgery for weeding out the malignancy of criminalization in politics.
The apex court made these comments in its verdict on a plea seeking contempt action against several political parties, including the BJP and the Indian National Congress, for non-compliance of its 13 February, 2020 directions during the Bihar assembly polls last year.
It passed a slew of directions, including that political parties have to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites to make the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful.
“No one can deny that the menace of criminalization in the Indian political system is growing day by day. Also, no one can deny that for maintaining purity of political system, persons with criminal antecedents and who are involved in criminalization of political system should not be permitted to be the lawmakers,” the bench said in its 71-page verdict.
It noted that the only question is whether the court can do so by issuing directions which do not have foundation in the statutory provisions.
“This court, time and again, has appealed to the lawmakers of the country to rise to the occasion and take steps for bringing out necessary amendments, so that the involvement of persons with criminal antecedents in polity is prohibited. All these appeals have fallen on the deaf ears. The political parties refuse to wake up from deep slumber,” it said.
In its 13 February, 2020 verdict, the top court had directed the political parties to upload on their websites and social media platforms the details of pending criminal cases against their candidates and the reasons for selecting them, as also for not giving ticket to those without criminal antecedents.
In September 2018, a five-judge constitution bench had unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls and called for a wider publicity through print and electronic media about the antecedents of candidates. (PTI)