A petition was filed in the Supreme Court of India on Thursday, demanding that convicted persons be debarred uniformly from Legislature, Executive and Judiciary.
The petition, filed by Mr. Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, demands that an order be issued directing the Centre to take necessary steps to debar persons charged with criminal offences from contesting elections, forming a political party and becoming office bearers of any party. It further seeks a direction for providing adequate infrastructure to set up special Courts to decide criminal cases related to members of the Legislature, Executive and Judiciary within one year.
“Purity and sanctity of electoral process, sin-qua-non for a sound system of governance appears to have become a forgotten thing in view of the entry of a large number of criminals in the Parliament and State Assembly. Sh. Krishnamurthy, the then Election Commissioner has pointed out that 40 politicians, involved in serious heinous crimes like loot, extortion, murder, rape etc were the Members of the 11th Lok Sabha and 700 politicians of similar background were in the State legislatures. Even the political parties out of the glamour of political power and consequent benefits do not hesitate in giving tickets to the criminals and do not object to their use in winning the elections. Thus, criminalization of the politics needs to be checked on top priority,” the Petition states.
It alleges that judicial interpretation of Section 8(3) of the Representation of Peoples Act has “not been very satisfactory.” Section 8(3) stipulates that a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than the offences referred to in Section 8(1) and (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
Mr. Upadhyay alleges that among the six national parties i.e. Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), and Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M), the NCP has the highest percentage of candidates with criminal candidates (57 per cent) followed by the CPI (M) (40 per cent). It further avers that the NCP has the highest percentage of candidates with serious criminal charges (39%) followed by the BJP (28%).
The petition names Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Maharashtra as the States with the highest percentage of MPs accused of criminal and serious criminal offences. It then goes on the point out an “evident link” between criminality and the probability of winning as attributable to a candidate. “While any random candidate has one in eight chances of winning a Lok Sabha seat, a candidate facing criminal charges is twice as likely to win as a clean candidate,” it claims.
Mr. Upadhyay thereby demands that the Centre and the Election Commission of India be directed to implement the “Important Electoral Reforms” proposed by Election Commission, Law Commission and National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution. It further seeks a direction for the respondents to set minimum qualification and maximum age limit for members of the Legislature. The petition is scheduled to be heard on September 13.
Mr. Upadhyaya has prayed for the following reliefs