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Political Parties Have To Publish Information On 'Candidates With Criminal Antecedents' On Their Website Homepage: Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
10 Aug 2021 10:23 AM GMT
Political Parties Have To Publish Information On Candidates With Criminal Antecedents On Their Website Homepage: Supreme Court
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The Supreme Court has directed the political parties to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites.It will also become necessary now to have on the homepage a caption which states "candidates with criminal antecedents"The court has also directed the Election Commission of India to create a dedicated mobile application...

The Supreme Court has directed the political parties to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites.

It will also become necessary now to have on  the homepage a caption which states "candidates with criminal antecedents"

The court has also directed  the Election Commission of India to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents, so that at one stroke, each voter gets such information on his/her mobile phone. The following are the directions issued to 'make the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful':

(i) Political parties are to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites, thus making it easier for the voter to get to the information that has to be supplied. It will also become necessary now to have on  the homepage a caption which states "candidates with criminal antecedents";


(ii) The ECI is directed to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents, so that at one stroke, each voter gets such information on his/her mobile phone;


(iii) The ECI is directed to carry out an extensive awareness campaign to make every voter aware about his right to know and the availability of information regarding criminal antecedents of all contesting candidates. This shall be done across various platforms, including social media, websites, TV ads, prime time debates, pamphlets, etc. A fund must be created for this purpose within a period of 4 weeks into which fines for contempt of Court may be directed to be paid;


(iv) For the aforesaid purposes, the ECI is also directed to create a separate cell which will also monitor the required compliances so that this Court can be apprised promptly of non-compliance by any political party of the directions contained in this Court's Orders, as fleshed out by the ECI, in instructions, letters and circulars issued in this behalf;


(v) We clarify that the direction in paragraph 4.4 of our Order dated 13.02.2020 be modified and it is clarified that the details which are required to be published, shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate and not prior to two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations; and


(vi) We reiterate that if such a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the ECI, the ECI shall bring such noncompliance by the political party to the notice of this Court as being in contempt of this Court's Orders/directions, which shall in future be viewed very seriously.

The above directions have been issued in the contempt petition filed by Advocate Brajesh Singh.

Persons with criminal antecedents and who are involved in criminalisation of political system should not be permitted to be the law-makers

In its judgment, the court observed that the menace of criminalisation in the Indian political system is growing day by day. No one can deny that for maintaining purity of political system, persons with criminal antecedents and who are involved in criminalisation of political system should not be permitted to be the law-makers, the bench said.

But our hands are tied, We can only appeal to the conscience of the law-makers

"The only question is, whether this Court  can do so by issuing directions which do not have foundation in the statutory provisions. 72.This Court, time and again, has appealed to the law-makers 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. However, in view of the constitutional scheme of separation of powers, though we desire that something urgently requires to be done in the matter, our hands are tied and we cannot transgress into the area reserved for the legislative arm of the State. We can only appeal to the conscience of the law-makers and hope that they will wake up soon and carry out a major surgery for weeding out the malignancy of criminalisation in politics."

The Court also imposed fine on political parties for failure to comply with the judgment of disclosing criminal antecedents of candidates contesting polls in Bihar. ₹5 lakh fine imposed on CPI(M) & NCP and ₹1 lakh fine on BJP, INC, Janta Dal, RJD, CPI & LJP.

Case: Brajesh Singh vs. Sunil Arora ; Contempt Petn (Civil) 656 OF 2020
Citation: LL 2021 SC 367
Coram: Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai

Click here to Read/Download Judgment





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