Electoral Reforms In India

Explained: What Supreme Court said on petition to disqualify tainted candidates


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Not Much

Mains level : Electoral Reforms: Prospects and Challenges


  • A famous religious head who has been chargesheeted in a bomb blast case is contesting the elections.
  • This has raised concerns amongst various section of society including Politicians as well
  • The legal bar on contesting applies only to individuals who have been convicted by a court.

Criminalization of politics

  • It is a political buzzword in the democracies used in the media, by commentators, bloggers as well as by defenders of high-ranking government officials who have been indicted or have faced criminal or ethical investigations.

Judicial Limitations over the matter

  • Though criminalization in politics is a bitter manifest truth, which is a termite to the citadel of democracy, be that as it may, the Court cannot make the law.
  • In Sept 2018, the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court said that it was not within its powers to disqualify politicians facing criminal cases from contesting elections.
  • The Courts directions to the EC are of the nature as sought in the case at hand, may in an idealist world seem to be at a cursory glance, an antidote to the malignancy of criminalization in politics but such directions.
  • However on closer scrutiny, it clearly reveals that it is not constitutionally permissible.

What courts can do to prevent Criminalization?

  • The Court may Parliament to bring out a strong law whereby it is mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges are framed in heinous and grievous offences.
  • This, “in our attentive and plausible view”, the court said, “would go a long way in achieving decriminalization of politics and usher in an era of immaculate, spotless, unsullied and virtuous constitutional democracy”.

What about innocent accused?

  • It is one thing to take cover under the presumption of innocence of the accused.
  • It is true that false cases are foisted on prospective candidates, but the same can be addressed by the Parliament through appropriate legislation.
  • It is equally imperative that persons who enter public life and participate in law making should be above any kind of serious criminal allegation.

Way Forward

  • A time has come that the Parliament must make a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream.
  • The nation eagerly waits for such legislation, for the society has a legitimate expectation to be governed by proper constitutional governance.
  • The voters cry for systematic sustenance of constitutionalism should not be at the peril of lack of political will.
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