CRIME AND POLITICS make strange bedfellows. Criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs have shot up even during unusual times of pandemic. Nine political parties including BJP and Congress have failed to upload information about criminal antecedents of their candidates.
It is at such a crucial juncture that the Supreme Court has called for a ‘major surgery to weed out the malignancy of criminalization in politics as political parties refuse to wake up from deep slumber’.
The top court on August 10 held all these nine political parties guilty of contempt and fined eight of them for violating its February 2020 order.
In its order, the court had directed political parties to upload details of pending criminal cases against their candidates and explain why they picked the tainted ones instead of those with a clean record.
Holding the eight political parties guilty of Contempt of Court, the Supreme Court fined the BJP, Congress, RJD, JD(U), CPI and the Lok Janshakti Party Rs1 lakh each for partial non-compliance, the CPI(M) and NCP have to pay Rs5 lakh each for total non-compliance.
The top Court has ordered that States cannot withdraw criminal cases against sitting MPs and MLAs without prior sanction from respective high courts.
The Supreme Court took a serious note of the fact that criminal cases pending against sitting and former MPs and MLAs had registered a 17 per cent jump in less than two years.
The Court has asked political parties to publish criminal records of candidates within 48 hours of their selection. It also ordered that special courts judges, hearing cases against MPs and MLAs, would not be transferred until further orders.
The Central Bureau of Investigation and Enforcement Directorate have been ordered to submit status of the cases against sitting MPs and MLAs within 10 days.Indeed the ground reality shows a dismal picture of the status of trials against elected representatives.
Spurt in criminal cases against sitting and former MPs and MLAs at 4122 in December 2018 to 4,859 by September 2020, registering a jump of 17 per cent in less than two years, shows that the law-makers take to crime with impunity. In fact many state governments have withdrawn even very serious cases against elected representatives.
Taking a serious note the Apex Court ruled that public prosecutors can’t withdraw criminal cases against lawmakers without sanction from High Courts and put a bar on transfer of Judges handling such cases.
The Court observed that “The nation continues to wait, and is losing patience. Cleansing the polluted stream of politics is obviously not one of the immediate pressing concerns of the legislative branch of the government.” It’s a wakeup call for law makers?