Onus on PM, CMs to decriminalise politics, says SC

'Tainted ministers should not be in govt'
Last Updated 27 August 2014, 20:58 IST

A five-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court on Wednesday put moral pressure on the prime minister and chief ministers to re-think on continuance of any member facing trial for heinous offences and corruption cases as a minister.

However, the bench presided over by Chief Justice R M Lodha did not give any ruling to bar the “tainted” members from induction into the council of ministers.

It noted that the prime minister and chief ministers, who are seen as trustees of the Constitution, should act in “the interest of national polity of the nation-state” as they are under the gaze of the watchful eyes of the people of the country.

“The repose of faith in the prime minister by the entire nation under the Constitution has expectations of good governance which is carried on by ministers of his choice. 

It is also expected that the persons who are chosen as ministers do not have criminal antecedents, especially facing trial in respect  of serious or heinous criminal offences or offences pertaining to corruption,” the bench said.Need good governance

“In a democracy, the people never intend to be governed by persons who have criminal antecedents.  This is not merely a hope and aspiration of citizenry but the idea is also engrained in apposite executive governance,” the bench added.

The court said that the prime minister has been regarded as the repository of constitutional trust and the framers of the Constitution left many a thing unwritten by reposing immense trust in the prime minister. 

“There can be no dispute over the proposition that unless a person is convicted, he is presumed to be innocent but the presumption of innocence in criminal jurisprudence is something altogether different, and not to be considered for being chosen as a minister to the council of ministers because framing of charge in a criminal case is totally another thing,” it said.

The court also said that framing of charge in a trial has its own significance and consequence as it is a judicial act by an experienced judicial mind (a trial judge) on examination of a charge sheet. 

(Published 27 August 2014, 20:58 IST)

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