The Supreme Court today ruled out disqualifying a person from contesting elections merely only on the basis of the framing of charges in criminal cases. A five-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra said that the court can’t add grounds of disqualification of the MPs and MLAs and observed that the Parliament should enact a law to bar criminals from entering the electoral field.
The court also directed that each candidate shall declare his/her criminal antecedents to the Election Commission in their affidavit in ‘bold’ letters before contesting an election. It said that citizens have the right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates.
“Citizens have the right to know the criminal antecedents of a candidate so that they can make an informed choice in the election,” the top court said.
The verdict was unanimously passed by the bench. The court’s verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas seeking an order be passed barring the lawmakers facing criminal trial from contesting the elections. The petitions were filed by NGO Public Interest Foundation and BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay among others.
“We had demanded from the SC to ward off candidates from contesting polls against whom charges have been framed in heinous crimes. Validating our demand, the SC has directed Parliament to pass a law that can stop criminalization of politics. In its directions to the Election Commission, the Supreme Court said that each candidate will submit its detail to EC and EC will upload it on website. Candidate must submit its criminal record to its political party that will publish it on electronic, print and local media, at least 3 times before polling date,” lawyer Upadhyay told reporters outside the court.
The court also dismissed a plea filed by the same petitioners seeking to bar advocate lawmakers from pactising in courts across the country. The bench observed that the Bar Council of India Rules do not prohibit legislators from practising as lawyers.