17 Jan 2022 7:33 AM GMT
A writ petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to de-register political parties which fail to publish details regarding criminal cases of its candidates. The Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has sought directions to the Election Commission of India to take steps to ensure that...
A writ petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking directions to the Election Commission of India to de-register political parties which fail to publish details regarding criminal cases of its candidates.
The Public Interest Litigation(PIL) filed by Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay has sought directions to the Election Commission of India to take steps to ensure that every political party publishes the details regarding criminal cases of each candidate along with the reason for such selection on its official website within 48 hours as per the Supreme Court's judgments in Public Interest Foundation's case and Rambabu Singh Thakur's case.
Last year, the Supreme Court had held eight political parties guilty for contempt of court for breach of the directions relating to the publication of criminal antecedents.
In Rambabu Singh Thakur's case, taking note of "alarming" rise of criminalisation of politics, the Supreme Court had directed all political parties to publish the details of criminal antecedents of their candidates in the Lok Sabha and Assembly polls within 48 hours of selection of the candidate or within two weeks of nomination, whichever is earlier.
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The plea filed through Advocate Ashwini Kumar Dubey has sought directions to the ECI to ensure that every political party explains why it preferred a candidate with criminal cases and didn't select a person without criminal antecedents within 48 hours.
Further, directions have been sought to the ECI to ensure that every political party publishes the criminal cases within 48 hours in electronic, print and social media and to file a contempt case against the President whose party violates Supreme Court's directions.
The plea has pointed out that Samajwadi Party, which is a registered and recognised political party, has fielded 'Notorious Gangster Nahid Hasan' from Kairana but neither published his criminal records in electronic, print and social media nor the reason of his selection within 48 hours.
According to the petitioner, the injury Caused to Citizens is extremely large because even recognized political parties are giving tickets to dreaded criminals. Therefore, voters find it difficult to cast their vote freely and fairly, though it's a fundamental right under Article 19.
The petition has stated that presently 159(29%) MPs have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to rape, murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc. Out of 542 winners analyzed after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 112 (21%) had declared serious criminal cases against themselves. So, there is an increase of 109 % in the number of winners with declared serious criminal cases since 2009.
The petitioner has pointed out the following consequences of permitting criminals to contest, become legislators are extremely serious for democracy and secularism:
(i) during the electoral process itself, not only do they deploy enormous amounts of illegal money to interfere with the outcome but also intimidate voters/rival candidates.
(ii) Once they gain entry to the governance as legislators, they interfere with, and influence, the functioning of government machinery in favour of themselves and their organization by corrupting government officers and, where that does not work, by using their contacts with Ministers to make threats of transfer and initiation of disciplinary proceedings. Some become Ministers, which makes the situation worse.
(iii) Legislators with criminal antecedents attempt to subvert the administration of justice and attempt by hook or crook to prevent cases against themselves from being concluded and, where possible, to obtain acquittals.
The petitioner has argued that permitting criminals to become legislators interferes with the purity and integrity of the electoral process, violates the right to choose freely the candidate and therefore, the freedom of expression of the voter under Article 19(1), amounts to a subversion of democracy, and is antithetical to the rule of law which is at core of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.
Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay vs Union of India & Ors