From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : NA
Mains level : Criminalization of Politics
- The increasing trend of criminalization of politics is dangerous and has steadily been eating into the vitals of our democratic polity along with growing corruption of a humongous nature.
What is criminalization of politics?
- Criminals becomes legislators: The criminals entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature. Criminalization of politics is the focus of public debate when discussion on electoral reforms takes place.
- Criminal nexus: It is result of nexus between politicians and criminals.
What are the reasons for criminalization of politics
- Political control of state machinery: Increasing trend of criminalization of politics is linked to political control of state machinery, corruption, vote-bank politics and above all, loopholes in the legal system.
- Inaction from bureaucrats: We cannot expect probity and integrity from the bureaucracy if it is controlled in large measure, by criminals. Good governance gets seriously undermined when, for instance, criminals, gangsters or mafia dons, become the political bosses of bureaucrats and subvert the system to serve their interests.
- Embracing the corruption: In such a scenario, the bureaucratic system ceases to resist corruption and often embraces it to carry out the diktats of criminal political bosses and also to suit its own ends.
What are the effects of criminalization of politics?
- Hampering free and fair election: limited choice of voters to elect a candidate to parliament or state. It is against the spirit of free and fair election which is the bedrock of a democracy.
- Unhealthy democratic practice: The major problem is that the law-breakers become law-makers, this affects the efficacy of the democratic process in delivering good governance. These unhealthy tendencies in the democratic system reflect a poor image of the nature of India’s state institutions and the quality of its elected representatives.
- Circulation of black money: It also leads to increased circulation of black money during and after elections, which in turn increases corruption in society and affects the working of public servants.
- Culture of violence: It introduces a culture of violence in society and sets a bad precedent for the youth to follow and reduces people’s faith in democracy as a system of governance.
- Weakening the institutions: This is a pervasive malaise in our body politic, which is assuming cancerous proportions. As a result, the three main pillars of our democracy, namely, Parliament, judiciary and executive, get progressively weakened, and the fundamental concept of a democratic system gets subverted.
What should be done?
- Fast judicial process: Fast-tracking the judicial process will weed out the corrupt as well as criminal elements in the political system.
- Political consensus is necessary: It is high time all political parties came together and developed a consensus on keeping criminals some of them with serious charges including kidnapping, rape, murder, grave corruption and crimes against women out of the system.
- Warning by Vohra committee: The Vohra Committee set up by the Centre in 1993 sounded a note of warning saying that “some political leaders become the leaders of these gangs/armed senas and, over the years, get themselves elected to local bodies, state assemblies and the national Parliament.” This was nearly three decades ago.
Efforts by Supreme court and Executive
- Disclosure of criminal records: In 2002, the Court ruled that every candidate contesting election has to declare his criminal and financial records along with educational qualifications. It must be said that mandatory declaration of assets and existing criminal charges in self-sworn affidavits to the EC, prior to elections, has brought in some degree of transparency.
- Formation of special courts: As a follow-up to these directives, in 2017, the Union government started a scheme to establish 12 special courts for a year to fast track the trial of criminal cases against MPs and MLAs. The apex court has since then issued many directions, including asking the Centre to set up a monitoring committee to examine reasons for delay of investigation in these cases.
- Tackling the pendency of cases: The number of pending cases continues to be a matter of grave concern, so much so that the Supreme Court had been informed, as per media reports of February 2022, that the number of pending criminal cases against sitting and former MLAs and MPs had risen to close to 5,000 towards the end of December 2021.
- There cannot be any leniency to criminals and the corrupt in public life, especially when it comes to a range of crimes which are serious and heinous in nature. Fast tracking trials and expediting the judicial process through a time-bound justice delivery system alone can cleanse our public life and rid it of this widespread disease.
Q. What is the criminalization of Politics? Enlist the reasons for criminalization of politics and solution to tackle the same.