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Persons with criminal background should not become policymakers: Madras HC opines [Read Order]

"Indian Democracy should not be tainted by criminals", the Court said while also querying after why the Government has not introduced a law to prohibit persons with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court was recently prompted to voice concern over the continuing criminalisation of politics in india, while querying after why the Centre is yet to enact a law to bar politicians with criminal backgrounds from contesting elections.

"Persons with criminal background should not become policymakers", emphasised a Bench comprising of Justices N Kirubakaran and M Velumani.

In the case before it, the Court observed that political clout may have contributed to a delay of three years in granting sanction to prosecute a Puducherry-based man accused of having hurled country-made bombs in an attempt to murder rival gang members (Jamuna v. The Secretary to Government, Government of India).

The case itself dated back to 2015. Not even an investigation was conducted for five years, the Bench noted, adding that this indicated the accused man's clout with political parties.

"It is evident from media reports that criminal elements in Puducherry have close connection and support of political parties. Political parties are having criminals as their members and also office-bearers. It is brought to the notice of this Court that many cases are relating to inter-gang rivalries and country made bombs are used to murder the opposite gang members", the Court said.

The Court proceeded to comment on the larger issue of criminalised politics in India, stating,

"It is appearing in the Media that rowdy gangs are operated by many politicians, communal and religious leaders throughout the Country. There seems to be a syndicate between the police force, political leaders and rowdy gangs and hence, the safety and security of the people are jeopardised."

Pertinently, the Judges took note of reports that persons with criminal backgrounds were becoming policy makers in many parts of the country. This has to be prevented and the system should be cleansed, the Court opined. It added that this would only be possible if the leaders also envision the decriminalisation of politics.

Instead, "If criminals are accommodated in political parties and given tickets to contest elections and elected as M.L.A.s, M.P.s, and made as Ministers, wrong message would be sent to the people", the Court said.

To tackle the issue, the Court highlighted that the Centre should come out with a comprehensive law to "prohibit persons with criminal background from contesting elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and local bodies as observed by the Constitution Bench of Hon'ble Supreme Court in Public Interest Foundation and others vs. Union of India and another."

"Persons with criminal background should not become policy makers... Indian Democracy should not be tainted by criminals. Further, it is seen that some of the criminal elements are floating political parties on their own with the support of their religion or communities and the same is required to be prohibited."
Madras High Court

In order to further deliberate on the issue, the Court proceeded to suo motu impleade the Director General of Police, Puducherry.

Before adjourning the matter by two weeks, the Court has asked the Central Government to answer its queries on various aspects including details of rowdy gangs in Puducherry and other States, the number of persons with criminal antecedents who are office-bearers in political parties, the time taken for criminal cases to be disposed of in Puducherry, among others.

Notably, the Court has also asked the Government to respond on why a law to bar criminal persons from elections has not been introduced yet, despite the Supreme Court's suggestion in the 2018 case of Public Interest Foundation and others vs. Union of India and another.

"Why not the Central Government enact a law to prohibit candidates with criminal background contesting the elections to the Parliament as well as State legislatures as suggested by the Constitution Bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court on 25.09.2018 in Public Interest Foundastion and others vs. Union of India and another reported in 2019 (3) SCC 224?"
Madras High Court

Read the order:

Jamuna v Secy to Government, Government of India.pdf
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