SC on De-criminalisation of Politics – UPSC GS2

Context: Supreme Court stated that no political party was interested in enacting legislation to decriminalize politics by prohibiting candidates against whom grave charges have been framed by the courts.
About the SC ruling
The bench was hearing a contempt plea seeking action against political parties which failed to declare and publicise criminal antecedents of their candidates in the 2020 Bihar Assembly elections.
  • The plea has alleged that the Election Commission (EC) and political parties disobeyed the Supreme Court judgment in February 2020 wherein it had made it mandatory for all political parties to put up on their websites and also publish in two newspapers information regarding the pending criminal cases against candidates being fielded by them and the reasons for selecting them.
  • The plea also contended that several parties failed to put in the public domain the details of criminal antecedents of their candidates, apart from just citing their winnability as the factor for picking them.
  • SC stated, legislative wing of the government has not been keen on taking a step in this direction.
  • According to data, there were 427 candidates with criminal antecedents who contested the assembly elections in Bihar in 2020.
Challenges and Limitations of SC directions
  • The directions cannot bar a candidate against whom charges for heinous offences are framed from contesting.
  • The election symbol of the party cannot be suspended or withdrawn: The symbol of a national party cannot be cancelled because directions haven’t been followed in the state of a panchayat level.

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