In a judgement that is likely to put a curb on criminalisation of politics, the Supreme Court on Thursday ruled that if any elected representative gives an incorrect declaration on pending criminal cases, his election can be declared “null and void”. Such concealment/non-disclosure would amount to “undue influence” as it “creates an impediment in the free exercise of electoral right”, it said.
“Non-disclosure of criminal antecedents amounts to corrupt practice by the candidates. The crucial recognised ideal which is required to be realised is eradication of criminalisation of politics and corruption in public life,” a bench headed by Justice Dipak Misra said, while cracking the whip on criminal politicians again.
“Disclosure of criminal antecedents of a candidate, especially, pertaining to heinous or serious offence or offences relating to corruption or moral turpitude at the time of filing of nomination paper as mandated by law is a categorical imperative,” it added.
According to the apex court, such concealment deprives the voters to make an informed and advised choice as a consequence of which it would come within the compartment of direct or indirect interference or attempt to interfere with the free exercise of the right to vote by the electorate on the part of the candidate.
The judgement came in a 2006 case, Krishnamoorthy vs Sivaku, relating to the nullification of election of a panchayat member in Tamil Nadu’s Coimbatore by the Madras High Court which found him guilty of not disclosing pending criminal cases against him while filing his nomination for elections.