Pinnacle Court to hear petition regarding action on political parties hiding criminal records

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A petition has been filed before the Supreme Court seeking a direction to the Election Commission to ensure that all political parties publish details regarding criminal cases of candidates along with the reason for their selection on the home page of its official website.

Besides the website, the petition has also sought a direction to the Election Commission of India (ECI) to ensure that every politician publishes the details in electronic, print, and social media, and to file a contempt case against the president of the party which violates such directions.

Mentioning the petition before a bench led by Chief Justice of India N V Ramana, Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay sought directions to the Election Commission on this.

When Mr. Upadhyay pointed to the ongoing nomination process in the five states headed to Assembly polls, the Chief Justice of India asked, "Can we prevent persons who have cases against them from filing nominations?". The court then said, "You have mentioned, we will consider."

The plea stated that on January 13, 2022, Samajwadi Party fielded notorious gangster Nahid Hasan from Kairana but neither published his criminal records in electronic, print, and social media nor the reason of his selection within 48 hours as per the direction of the top court.

The petition sought directions to the ECI to de-register the political party which violates the directions of the apex court.

It also sought direction to the ECI to ensure that every political party explains why it preferred a candidate with criminal cases and did not select a person without criminal antecedents within 48 hours.

It added that during the electoral process itself, not only do they pump in enormous amounts of illegal money to interfere with the outcome but also intimidate voters or rival candidates.

"Thereafter, in our weak rule-of-law, once they gain entry to the governance as legislators, they interfere with, and influence, the functioning of government machinery in favour of themselves and their organisation by corrupting government officers and, where that does not work, by using their contacts with ministers to make threats of transfer and initiation of disciplinary proceedings. 

Some become ministers, which makes the situation worse," it submitted.

Last year, the court found nine parties guilty of not following its directives. The court also modified its earlier order and said details regarding criminal background "shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate" as the second condition is difficult to be implemented owing to statutory provisions.

The court has also directed that a criminal case against an MP or MLA can be withdrawn only after consent from the High Court concerned.

Finally; the petition seeks a directive to the Election Commission to ensure that all parties publish on their website details regarding criminal cases against its candidates and the reason for their selection.