The Election Commission on Friday told the Supreme Court that political parties should be asked not to field candidates with criminal backgrounds, PTI reported. The poll panel suggested this could reduce the involvement of those with criminal records in politics, as the top court’s 2018 order for candidates to declare their criminal antecedents in media had not helped.
The court was hearing a petition by Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwini Upadhyay against criminalisation of politics.
In response, the Supreme Court said that Upadhyay and the lawyer for the Election Commission should sit together and come up with ways to curb criminalisation of politics. A bench of Justices RF Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat asked the Election Commission to come up with a framework within one week.
In January 2019, the Supreme Court had dismissed Upadhyay’s petition seeking a direction to the Election Commission to restrain political parties from fielding candidates who have criminal records. “We are not inclined to entertain this petition,” a bench comprising then Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna had told the petitioner. “However, it will be open to the petitioner to approach the Election Commission by giving a representation.”
In September 2018, the Supreme Court had refused to disqualify politicians against whom criminal charges were pending from contesting elections, and left it to Parliament to frame an appropriate law. However, the court ordered that candidates contesting must declare their criminal antecedents to help the voter make an informed choice, the court said. Political parties were told to publish the criminal pasts of their candidates on their websites and publicise it.