Political leaders with criminal or some other background is one perennial problem in the Indian political landscape.
Given this scenario, the Indian Supreme Court on February 14, 2020 passed a directive urging political parties to submit the names of their ‘candidates with criminal records’.
It also asked the parties to justify with proper reasoning as to why such candidates were taken into the party.
Now, all the political parties have only 48 hours deadline to disclose the details of such candidates on respective department websites and social media.
The court asked them to submit all this information to the Election Commission and failing to do so will require them to appear before the courts.
The apex court noted that there has been an alarming rise in a number of criminal candidates and should be addressed on an urgent basis.
According to the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), around 43% of MPs elected in 2019 had criminal records, a rise from 34% in 2014.
There has been a rise in this trend of ‘Indian MPs with criminal records’ from 24% in 2004 to 30% in 2009.
The range of crimes extend from minor ones or politically-motivated to those involving assault on public officials, rapes and murders.
Questioning their inability to fielding ‘clean’ candidates, the apex court said placing such candidates for ‘winnability’ is not an appropriate justification.
“A key factor motivating parties to select candidates with serious criminal records comes down to cold, hard cash. Self-financing candidates who do not represent a drain on the finite party coffers but instead contribute ‘rents’ to the party,” says political scientist Milan Vaishnav.