Expressing concern over criminalisation of politics, the Supreme Court on Friday asked the Election Commission to come up with a framework to prevent this.
“This should be done at the earliest in the public interest,” said a bench of Justices R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat. The bench asked the petitioner, Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, and the poll panel to work it out in a week’s time. “This should not be treated as an adversarial litigation. Both of you sit together and give a joint framework as what could be done to stop criminalisation of politics,” it said.
Appearing for the EC, Senior Advocate Vikas Singh told the bench that directions given by it in September 2018, asking candidates to declare criminal cases against them in the media, had not helped curb the menace and urged it to ask political parties not to give tickets to people with a criminal background. He added that the EC had taken a series of steps to put an end to such criminalisation.
“Given the situation and current composition of Parliament, we can assume that a law will not be passed to prohibit criminalisation of politics and disqualify those charged with serious criminal offences,” he said.
Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan, representing the petitioner, also contended that Parliament may not pass such a law. The court was hearing a contempt plea by Upadhyay who sought initiation of contempt proceedings against Centre for allegedly violating the apex court direction.
The plea pointed out that the EC had on October 10, 2018, issued a notification regarding the amended Form-26 and directions to political parties and candidates for publication of their criminal cases.
The notification, however, had no legal sanction as the EC had not amended the Election Symbol Order, 1968 or the model code of conduct, the petitioner contended.
It said the EC did not publish a list of leading newspapers and channels on which the candidates would have published details of cases against them nor clarified the timing for declaring this. Candidates published details in newspapers and channels that were not very popular and at odd hours, it added.
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