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The Supreme Court today directed political parties to upload details of candidates with criminal backgrounds on their official websites as well as in newspapers and on social media (Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora & Ors.)
The details of criminal antecedents of candidates should include the nature of the crime, whether charges have been framed etc.
The Court also ordered that the parties should give reasons on why each candidate is being fielded for elections. It was made clear by the Court that the ability to win elections should not be the reason furnished for fielding the candidate.
Political parties have been further directed to publish the antecedents of their candidates in one local newspaper and one national newspaper and on social media, including on their Facebook and Twitter pages.
They have also been directed to file a compliance report with the Election Commission of India to ensure that the Court’s directions are followed.
On going though the submission of the parties, the Court also observed,
"...it appears that over the last four general elections, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics. In 2004, 24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019 as many as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them."
Given these statistics, the Court expressed its surprise as to why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates in the first place.
These details are required to be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.
The Bench of Justices Rohinton Nariman and Ravindra Bhat passed the order in contempt petitions filed by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay against the Centre and the Election Commission of India. The Court had reserved its verdict in the petitions on January 31.