The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it won’t stop lawmakers facing criminal charges from contesting elections unless they are convicted. However, the top court made some strong observations, such as “the time has come to keep criminals away from Parliament”. The decision of the apex court brings the ball to the court of lawmakers themselves, who have been asked to bring a legislation to keep criminals out of politics.
It appears nothing short of ironical that almost 34% members of the lower house of Parliament themselves face criminal charges. According to data released by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), 185 of the 542 winner of Lok Sabha elections in 2014 declared criminal cases against themselves.
Of these 185 Lok Sabha MPs, 112 (21%) declared criminal cases of serious nature, such as murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping and crime against women, against themselves.
According to the ADR, 10 members of Parliament have declared cases related to murder. Out of these, four winners were fielded by BJP, one by Congress, NCP, LJP, RJD, Swabhimani Paksha each and one is an independent.
Following the 2014 Lok Sabha election results, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which currently holds majority in the lower House of Parliament, had 97 out of 281 MPs (35%) facing criminal charges while the Congress had eight out 44 members (18%) named in criminal cases.
Six members of AIADMK, 15 of Shiv Sena and seven of Trinamool Congress had also declared criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits.
With the Supreme Court asserting that criminalisation of Indian polity is unsettling, the onus now lies on the members of Parliament. The top court expects them to ensure that the Indian democratic process is free of criminal elements. But with the picture suggested by the ADR data, the road to a legislation barring criminals from politics seems distant.