SC reserves judgement on criminal record of candidates

SC reserves judgement on plea for declaring criminal antecedents of candidates

The court had on Friday asked the EC to work out the mechanism with the petitioner

The petitioner had contended the 'Election Symbol Order & Model Code of Conduct' was not duly amended to make provisions for it. (Credit: PTI Photo)

The Supreme Court on Friday reserved its judgement on a framework proposed to make it mandatory for declaring criminal antecedents of candidates by political parties as well as by the contestants themselves in media, including on Facebook and Twitter, in a bid to check criminalisation of politics.

A bench presided over by Justice R F Nariman said it would pass the order after the Election Commission and PIL petitioner, Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini K Upadhyay furnished a framework jointly prepared as 'Criminal Antecedents of Candidates (Reporting and Publication) Order, 2020'.

The proposal has mandated rejection of nomination of candidates and suspension of symbol of political parties. It was pointed out that there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics as in 2004, 24 % MPs had criminal cases, pending against them. This number went up to 30% in 2009 and 34% in 2014 and reached to 43% in 2019.

The matter related to a plea by Upadhyay for contempt action against the officials for failing to notify leading newspapers and TV channels where the candidates in elections were to publish the criminal cases pending against them.

The petitioner had contended the 'Election Symbol Order & Model Code of Conduct' was not duly amended to make provisions for it.

On September 25, 2018, a five-judge bench had ordered that if a candidate was contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she was required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her and the concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents.

"The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that same shall be done at least thrice after filing of nomination papers," the court had ordered.