In a step towards decriminalizing politics, the Supreme Court directed that political parties must publish the criminal antecedents of candidates within 48 hours of their selection.
Nine parties including the BJP and Congress were held guilty of contempt and eight are fined today for not widely publicizing the criminal records of their 2020 Bihar candidates.
These parties are the Janata Dal-United, the Rashtriya Janata Dal, the Lok Janshakti Party, the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Communist Party of India, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India-Marxist, and the Rashtriya Lok Samta Party. Six parties, including the BJP and the Congress, were fined Rs 1 lakh and two – the NCP and the CPI-M, were fined Rs 5 lakh.
A bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai modified its February 13, 2020, judgment in this regard. The Supreme Court was hearing a contempt plea seeking action against political parties which failed to declare and publicize criminal antecedents of their candidates.
While delivering its judgment, the Supreme Court noted an “alarming increase of criminals in politics”.
A bench of Justices R.F. Nariman and B.R. Gavai said: “We can only appeal to the conscience of the lawmakers and hope that they will wake up soon and carry out a major surgery for weeding out the malignancy of criminalization in politics.”
To stop state governments from misusing their powers, the court also said criminal cases against MLAs or MPs cannot be withdrawn without approval from High Courts.
The CPM and NCP had given an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court after the Election Commission said it would suspend their symbols.