Judiciary slips in where legislature falters
The two historical and landmark judgment pronounced by the honorable Supreme Court of India of 13th July 2013 on the criminals contesting elections and politicians inside bars has created a flutter in political circles. The Supreme Court pronounced that a convicted criminal loses his membership status of the legislature and a politician in jail is debarred from contesting elections. The principal political parties are appalled by the judgment because as many as 150 convicted MPs are in Parliament this time and many convicts are going to be chalked off from getting tickets.
The Supreme Court has further stated that any legislators criminally convicted in lower courts with a two-year jail term or above. He stands to lose his membership of the legislature forthwith. This has made the representatives of the People Act, 1951, clause 8 (4) which gives immunity to a legislature in case of an appeal pending in a higher court, null and void. The interim relief provided for in the act is no more available after the judgment. The Honorable Supreme Court has made it clear that the statuesque is available to existing politicians against the lower court verdicts prior to the pronouncement of the order.
Serious criminal offenders:
From a total member of about 5,000 legislatures of the country, almost 1500 of them have been charged under serious criminal offence as knew from the affidavits filed before the Election Commission of India. Of the accused, about 700 have been charged with serious criminal offences, such as rape, attempt to murder, murder, and robbery, kidnapping and forcefully extracting money. These are all cognizable offences inviting conviction.
As per the survey conducted by “National Election Watch” and “Association of Democratic Forum”, 30% of Loksabha MPs, 31% of state legislatures have criminal cases pending against them. Of the above figure more than 50% of MPs and 15% of legislatures have cognizable criminal offenses against them. Party wise, BJP has 31%, Congress has 21%, SP has 48%, RJD has 64% and JMM has 82% of MPs and legislators with criminal cases against them.
The second verdict of the Supreme Court barring persons contesting from election may be fraught with dangerous consequences and nefarious design of electoral parties of contesting their opponents by confining them in elections times, making them ineligible to contest polls.
It is but possible that false allegations by ruling parties may land an opponent in bars. Politicians launch widespread movement against government actions, inactions and policies. So, FIRs against them are filed with the police and arrests can be made under factual or false FIRs allegations. Police under the impulse of political heavy weights may be arrests and confine leaders of political parties, making ineligible for contesting elections. Besides, executive or bureaucracy may exercise its powers arbitrarily.
Supreme Court's directives:
In order to settle a score, they may send politicians to jail, depriving them of contesting elections which may ring the death knell of democracy. Such apprehensions are not vague in the face of the mud-slinging politics going on in our country. The Representation of the People’s Act, passed by the Parliament years ago, and has been flawed by the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has found flaws in the above Act which are antithetical in nature. On one hand it debars people in prison having voting rights and, on the other, it allowed political parties to contest from jail. In a uniform system, the Supreme Court debars both of their voting rights.
Political parties during the past years have shown little interests in purging politics or keeping criminals, money and muscle power away from politics. As per statistics shown in the beginning, all major political parties have criminals as their MPs and MLAs. The number has risen in the recent past, endangering democracy. This is being possible because of flaws in the law. Taking advantage of the delayed process of judgment in India, political parties and criminals have been basking on money and muscle power. Little interest has been shown by the Parliament and the state legislators to change the system or change the law.
The political parties or India were deaf and dumb to the demands of the social organization and the educationists so far, but one single judgment of Supreme Court has awaken them from their deep slumber with keen interest in the recent past for measures to mollify the court verdict. Now, renewed hopes of electoral reforms, keeping criminals and money and muscle power away from the Indian administrative system have been taking shape in our minds. Judiciary steps in where legislature falters.
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