Upload details of criminal cases against candidates on your website: SC to political parties

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NEW DELHI, FEBRUARY 13: In a major development, the Supreme Court on Thursday (February 13, 2020) ordered all political parties to upload details of criminal cases registered against their candidates on their respective websites.

The top court passed the order while responding to a contempt plea, which has raised the issue of criminalisation of politics and claimed that the directions given by the apex court in its September 2018 verdict relating to disclosure of criminal antecedents of political candidates were not being followed.

While noting that there has been an ”alarming increase in criminalisation of politics” in last four general elections, the top court said that if political parties fail to comply with its directions on candidates with pending criminal cases, the Election Commission shall bring it to notice of apex court.

Political parties will have to specify reasons for selecting candidates having pending criminal cases against them on their website, the top court said in its order. The political parties will publish details of pending criminal cases against candidates on social media platforms and newspapers, the apex court stated.

A bench headed by Justice RF Nariman had on January 31 reserved its order on the plea. The bench observed that the issue of penalising political parties or candidates for not disclosing criminal antecedents has to be dealt with carefully as serious allegations with “political overtones” are often being made against candidates.

In September 2018, a five-judge Constitution bench had unanimously held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls and called for wider publicity, through print and electronic media about antecedents of candidates.

It had left it to Parliament to “cure the malignancy” of criminalisation of politics by making a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena as the “polluted stream of politics” needs to be cleansed.

During the hearing on the contempt plea, the apex poll panel had told the court that the rise in the number of MPs having pending criminal cases was “disturbing” and as per the statistics, there were 43 per cent MPs in Parliament who have criminal cases against them.