The Supreme Court of India has asked the political parties to publish information entailing the details of the candidates’ criminal history on not only their respective websites but also through print media.
What’s more interesting is that the apex court has asked the parties to explain their reason for appointing that particular candidate(s).
The Supreme Court has asked the political parties to create comprehensive information of the candidate with his/ her criminal background and should be available to the public. For print media, the political parties can use newspapers that are published in the local regional language(s).
The information published on the above-mentioned media should entail information on offence(s), cases against the candidate, and the stage of the trial of his/ her trial. Additionally, it should also tell why the party selected the particular candidate(s) given their criminal history.
The top court said ” Political parties will have to specify reasons for selecting candidates having pending criminal cases against them on their website” while adding ” The reason to select candidates should be based on merit and not winnability. Winnability can’t be the only justification”.
The Supreme Court has also asked the political parties to provide the same details to the Election Commission (EC) of India in under 3 days from the appointment of the candidates.
If the political party fails to publish the data of their candidates with criminal history on their website and print media and submit to the authorities, EC can file a case under contempt of court.
The decision of the Supreme Court of India comes after it was noticed that over 50% of the newly elected MLAs (Member of Legislative Assembly) from the Delhi Assembly Election 2020 have criminal cases against them.
As a matter of fact, the number of MLAs in the national capital with criminal cases has almost doubled. In 2015, 24 out of 70 MLAs in Delhi had criminal cases whereas, in 2020, the number rose to 43 MLAs out of 70.
The more alarming situation is the sheer number of MLAs with serious criminal cases, including an attempt to murder and rape, is 37 out of the total strength of 70 in the national capital.
According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 36 or 51% of 70 Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) candidates in the Delhi Assembly Elections 2020 have serious criminal cases against them, BJP had 17 or 25% of 67 candidates. Congress had 20%, BSP had 15% and NCP had 40% of candidates contesting in Delhi elections which had serious criminal cases against them.
At a time like this, people will support the Supreme Court’s decision, especially where a political party will have to explain why a certain candidate with a criminal history is appointed to contest in the elections.