How can convicts run political parties, asks CJI

By Legaleagle86 [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The idea of convicts running political parties has now been questioned by the CJI. The Supreme Court on Monday was of the opinion that convicts and those with criminal cases against them shouldn’t be allowed to head parties or contest in elections.

The bench was led by Dipak Misra, has not yet delivered the final verdict on the matter. It is yet to receive the view of the centre on the issue. The bench was hearing the public interest litigation filed by a BJP leader and the advocate Ashwini Upadhyay. The CJI pointed out that if a candidate with a criminal record couldn’t contest an election, how could they form their own parties and select candidates. The idea goes against basic democracy. It would mean that a criminal was leading the country. The additional solicitor Pinky Anand said that the government would need time to file a response.

This would be a new first against corrupt politics. If the ban is carried forward, politicians like, Om Prakash Chautala, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sasikala and Shibu Soren. The final hearing on the matter will take place on March 26th.

The CJI said, “It’s like when a man cannot directly contest an election, he constitutes a group of persons to form a political party and contest an election. An association of people can start a school, a hospital but when it comes to the matters of governance that matters…It’s a question of electoral integrity.

The petition filed also seeks to declare Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as ‘arbitrary’ and ‘irrational’. The section allows organisations to get registered simply by conforming to the provisions of the constitution. This opened up opportunities for non-serious candidates to create political parties. ECI has thus demanded the right to deregister parties. In 2004, an amendment to the section was also proposed when 80% of the parties were a burden on the electoral system and were using public money. If such ban is carried out, it might make Indian politics less messy and more trustworthy. But, one must consider whether it will really work.