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Bihar Elections: Plea In SC Seeks Contempt Against CEC, Political Parties For Alleged Failure To Publish Criminal Antecedents Of Candidates

Sanya Talwar
21 Nov 2020 4:50 PM GMT
Bihar Elections: Plea In SC Seeks Contempt Against CEC, Political Parties For Alleged Failure To Publish Criminal Antecedents Of Candidates
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A contempt petition has been filed in the Supreme Court seeking contempt action against the Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Bihar's Election Commission Officer for failing to comply with the Top Court's which had directed uploading names candidates of political parties who had criminal cases pending against them on their website.

This petition was filed on November 6, while the Bihar Polls were going on. However, the case was not listed and the election results were declared on November 10.

The petitioner has sought contempt against the concerned officers for non-implementation of the Top Court's orders of February 12, 2020 which had directed all political parties to publish details of criminal antecedents of their candidates in Lok Sabha & Assembly polls within 48 hours of selection of the candidate or within two weeks of nomination, whichever is earlier.

Rambabu Singh Thakur, who is an Advocate is the petitioner in person in the original plea while the current plea has been filed by Brajesh Singh, which states that as an officer of this court and also as a law abiding citizen, he has a "self-obligated" duty to apprise the court if "willfull disobedience" of its order is happening somewhere and especially in the state of the petitioner itself.

The petitioner states that after the ECI announced the poll scheduled for the Legislative Assembly of Bihar, the prominent political parties of Bihar started publication of criminal antecedents of its candidates from October 7, 2020 in one of the Hindi News Daily namely Rashriya Sahara Hindi Daily.

"The most surprising fact is that almost all prominent political parties of the state of Bihar who are contesting this General Assembly Election is publishing by and large the criminal antecedents of their candidates in this news paper itself...the Hon'ble Supreme Court in its para (2) (v) has clearly held that the candidate as well as the concerned party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers"

In this background, the petitioner states that "despite the clear cut direction" all of the parties deliberately defied the order choosing to publish its criminal antecedents by and large in a Hindi Daily which did not have a wide circulation in the State of Bihar.

The petition states that even though the Top Court had stated that the political party must describe the reasons as to why a person with criminal antecedents was selected with reference to the qualifications, achievements and merit and not mere winnability, the Rashtriya Janta Dal, in the case of Anant Singh (candidate) gave the reason of "popularity" and "probability of winning".

Singh has said 164 of the 353 candidates who contested the first phase for 71 seats have "tainted image".

Some of them have criminal cases ranging from murder to rape to kidnapping. He said the RJD tops the list followed by BJP and the other parties.

The petitioner has made several references to many other candidates with criminal antecedents by other political parties.

The plea states,

"That the aforesaid contemptuous act of the contemners herein will drastically affect the crores of votes including the petitioners close relative votes who would not be able to form his/her sound opinion due to not able to get this information in the reasonable timing before the election"

In this context, the plea seeks contempt proceedings against the alleged contemners for wilfully and deliberately disobeying the directions passed by Supreme Court in the order of February 13, 2020 and pass direction to the political parties for giving cogent reasons, "specifically in the case where the convicted henchmans' blood relatives are contesting election as proxy, in these situations, the concerned political parties must be compelled to put the information in public domain regarding blood relation with the so called henchman's who are ensuring their victories while sitting behind such candidates".

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