The Supreme Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a batch of petitions seeking the disqualification of lawmakers even before their conviction in criminal cases. The petitions also sought to ban people facing serious criminal charges from contesting elections.

A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra was hearing petition file by various parties, including NGO Public Interest Foundation, represented by Dinesh Dwivedi. The NGO’s plea claimed there were 34% legislators with criminal background in 2014 and it was quite impossible that Parliament would introduce any law to stop the “criminalisation of politics”.

The bench, which also consisted of Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, reserved the judgement after all parties, including the Election Commission of India and the central government, concluded their arguments.

“The intention of the lordships is laudable,” Attorney General KK Venugopal, who appeared for the Centre, told the court. “But the question is whether the court can do it [cleanse the political system by creating a law]. The answer is ‘no’.” Venugopal also said that a person is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty, and added that the court cannot restrict a person’s right to vote, which also includes his right to contest.

The court said that it did not want to infringe on the legislative’s powers but electors had a right to know the antecedent of a candidate. It asked if the Election Commission can form a rule to make political parties announce the candidate’s criminal past before elections to ensure the public can make an informed choice.