SC pulls up Centre for failing to respond on barring criminals from elections

SC pulls up Centre for failing to respond on barring criminals from elections

The Supreme Court has asked the Central Government to give response on why persons facing charges for serious offences like rape and murder should not be barred from contesting elections.

A Bench comprising Justice R M Lodha and Justice Madan B Lokur also questioned the Centre for failing to file a response to a PIL asking directions to debar candidates with criminal background and for keeping it pending for a period of two years.

In its submission, the Election Commission said, “Where a person has been accused of serious criminal charges and where the court is prima facie satisfied about his involvement in the crime and consequently charges have been framed against such person, then in such cases, keeping such person out of the electoral arena would constitute a reasonable restriction for serving the larger public interest.”

It further said, “Since the confidence of the litigant public gets affected or shaken by the lack of integrity and character of the candidate against whom judicial notice of severe criminal charges has been taken, such candidate must be barred from contesting elections.”

Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad represented the Centre and submitted that all the recommendations made by the EC had been rejected by the Parliament Standing Committee.

Notably, eight months ago the Apex Court had directed the Centre and the EC to "positively" file its response to the PIL seeking a series of directions to ensure that those with criminal track records do not enter the political arena. Pursuant to that order, the EC had filed its affidavit agreeing with the petitioner NGO which had in the PIL requested the court to frame guidelines for decriminalization of politics. The Centre has so far failed to file its response.