A judgement of the supreme court that was delivered in February 2020 might help in tackling the criminalisation of Indian politics. Through this landmark judgment, the Supreme Court has placed an obligation on all the political parties, that is if a political party happens to give an election ticket to a candidate with a criminal background than the party would be obligated to publicly state the reason. The party will be liable to answer as to why it chooses to select a candidate with a criminal background and why could the party not find a candidate with a clean criminal record.
This judgement of the Supreme Court will be implemented from the upcoming Bihar elections which are slated to be held in October 2020. Failure to comply with these directions of the Supreme Court would invite contempt charges against the leaders of the political party. This would be the first time that the top leadership of a political party would be held accountable for willing promoting a criminalisation of Indian politics.
While delivering this judgement, the Supreme Court sighted data from the Indian parliament to highlight the increasing criminalisation of Indian politics. This data from the Indian parliament shows that in 2004, 24% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them. This number has increased alarmingly over the years with 30% in 2009, 34% in 2014 and nearly 43% in 2019. Even if a small percentage of them are convicted, it still points at the excessive criminalisation of Indian politics.
So, the question on minds of every voter is that, why can’t our political parties find candidates with a clean criminal record. In a country with a population of 1.4 billion and with party membership running into several lakhs, how hard is it for the political parties to find candidates with a clean criminal record. Answering this question of the voter is very important because the result of excessive criminalisation of Indian politics is bad governance and corruption.
Today in India almost every institution has been heavily politicised. From our bureaucracy to our police, from media organisations to businesses, and even from the NGOs to civil society. We have politicians who run news channels and NGOs. We have politicians who run businesses with conflicting interests. And it has been well established that the bureaucracy and the police have been massively politicised.
In a country where a majority of politicians, especially the elected representatives have a criminal background, it facilitates the entry of criminals into governance. And it allows them to exercise direct control over all the key institutions of India.
Various committees, including second ARC and various judgments of the Supreme Court, has clearly established that the root cause of poor governance and corruption is electoral fraud which is a result of excessive criminalisation of Indian politics. A few decades ago, if it was muscle power that won the elections, it is money power that guarantees electoral victories to political parties.