From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : The SC judgement
Mains level : Paper 2- Electoral reforms
This article discusses the issue of criminalisation in politics and the reasons for its persistence despite several judgements by the Supreme Courts to deal with the issue.
The Feb 2020 SC order
- In a February 2020 judgement the Supreme Court has asked the political parties to state the reasons for the selection of candidates.
- The Court also asked to specify as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.
- If a political party fails to comply, it would be “… in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.”
- The political party and its leadership would for the first time have to publicly own up to criminalisation of politics.
- The judgment notes that “ in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them”.
- India is the only democratic country with a free press where we find a problem of this dimension.
What did the earlier orders require?
- (a) each candidate shall submit a sworn affidavit giving financial details and criminal cases.
- (b) each candidate shall inform the political party in writing of criminal cases against him or her.
- (c) the party shall put up on its website and on social media as well as publish in newspapers the names and details of such candidates.
Why the problem persists
- Survey after survey show that people around the country are unhappy with the quality of governance.
- Given limited choices, they vote as best as they can.
- Meanwhile, electoral bonds bring secrecy back into political funding.
- Several laws and court judgments have not helped much, as the data show.
- There lack of enforcement of laws and judgments.
- It is also not clear what penalty would be imposed if the recent orders are not followed.
- Monitoring the affidavits of candidates can help in compliance.
- Working with the EC to ensure that information is promptly available on their websites.
- Widely circulating this information to voters using all the social media tools available.
- Monitoring the compliance with the Supreme Court judgment to see if details of tainted candidates are promptly put up on their websites, and on their social media handles, along with proper reasons for giving them ticket.
- Voters also need to be vigilant about misuse of money, gifts and other inducements during elections.
- The waters will be muddied with fake news, trolling, and fanciful claims, concerted efforts to tackle the menace of fake news are required.
Consider the question “Despite several judgements from the Supreme Court the issue of criminalisation in politics still persists. Examine the reasons for the persistence of the issues. Suggest the measures to deal with the issues.”
we may not see dramatic changes in the quality of candidates. Campaigns may continue to be more and more personal and even abusive. But all these steps are required, however insignificant they may seem.