Supreme Court asks parliament to stop criminals from contesting polls

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that it is time for parliament to make a law to ensure that lawmakers facing criminal charges are barred from contesting elections.

A five-judge bench said the court was not in a position to add a disqualification that would bar people with criminal cases from entering elections.

“We are not in a position to add disqualification of candidates on filing of chargesheet in criminal cases,” Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, reading out the order.

‘The sooner the better’

But society has a right to be governed by better people, the judges said while observing that politicians with criminal cases must be “kept at bay”.

“The sooner the better, before it becomes fatal to democracy,” a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, dismissing a public interest litigation that wanted the top court to ban politicians from contesting elections once a court frames charges against them.

Leaving it to parliament to stop criminals from contesting polls, the court said: “National interest demands parliament enacts such legislation and the country awaits such a legislation.”

Disclosure in ‘bold letters’ to Election Commission

Additionally, the apex court directed political parties to post on their websites and publicise in the media full details of the criminal charges the candidates they are fielding in elections are facing.

“Such candidates should give in bold letters details of pending criminal cases to the Election Commission,” the court said.

Petition to curb ‘criminalisation of politics’

The top court is hearing a batch of petitions seeking disqualification of lawmakers even before their conviction in criminal cases to curb “criminalisation of politics” in the country. The court had earlier dubbed criminalisation of politics as “rot”.

Currently, lawmakers are barred at the time of conviction.

Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra are part of the Chief Justice Misra’s bench.