Mains Paper 2: Governance | Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability, e-governance- applications, models, successes, limitations, and potential
From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:
Prelims level: Legal Provisions for disqualification mentioned in newscard
Mains level: De-criminalizing politics in India
Parties must declare antecedents
- The Supreme Court proposed to make political parties accountable for criminalizing politics by welcoming in crooks who may later win elections on party ticket and grab power.
- The Constitution Bench led by CJI suggested it could direct the EC to insist that parties get new members to declare in an affidavit their criminal antecedents and publish them.
- This will enable citizens to know how many criminals (charged) there are in a party.
- The court demonstrated that the EC could de-register a party or withdraw its symbol if it refused to comply.
- The court is hearing a batch of petitions to ban persons charged with heinous criminal charges from contesting elections.
- The law presently bars only convicted persons from fighting elections or continuing as law makers. A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
- The Bench has been steadfast during the past days that it cannot legislate and change the written law.
Argument against the Proposal
- A political party has a right to field its candidate.
- Mere charges of having committed a crime cannot be used to prevent a person from contesting elections.
- The person may have done excellent work for his constituency and the people want to vote for him and the courts suggestion amounts to prematurely disqualifying a candidate.
- Political party should incorporate a clause in your membership form requiring a member to file an affidavit disclosing his criminal antecedents.
- Then party will publish it. If not, party may face de-registration by the Election Commission.
- Thus, it is as an alternative measure that the Bench suggested making the political party accountable for giving memberships to persons with a criminal record.
Legal Provisions for disqualification
- The Bench based its proposal on the power of the ECI to conduct an election and register/de-register political parties under Article 324 of the Constitution and Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act of 1951, respectively.
- The court invoked The Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968 to clothe the Commission with the power to withdraw a reserved party symbol.
- Chief Justice Misra pointed to how Section 29A requires a political party to swear to uphold the principles of socialism, secularism, democracy, sovereignty, unity and integrity of India.