Constitutional functionaries who pledge to uphold constitutional framework
from the smudges of corruption, tend to disrupt the very ethics when
criminalization strikes politics. Lack of concrete legislation however makes it
impossible to regulate such practices which should be absolutely disallowed.
Elections have grown increasingly expensive while political parties are growing
weaker with lack of funds.
The Constitution bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court in Public Interest Foundation
vs Union of India
 took cognizance of this widely debated issue and
directed the State to frame a law that makes it obligatory for political parties
to remove candidates charged with heinous and grievous
refuse ticket to offenders in both parliamentary and Assembly polls. Contesting
elections and winning a seat gives politicians a certain degree of protection
while opening up new illegal set of money-making opportunities. You may say it’s
wrong and such people shouldn’t be allowed to contest, but how to enforce?
The court emphasized on cleaning Indian political system while mentioning
Substantial efforts have to be undertaken to cleanse the polluted stream of
politics by prohibiting people with criminal antecedents so that they do not
even conceive of the idea of entering into politics. They should be kept at bay
and India is in desperate need of such legislation.
Over the years we’ve noted significant changes and effect on the functioning
of Indian democracy because of the criminal smudges possessed by our elected
representatives. Association for Democratic Reforms  in its report found 43%
of the newly selected MPs having criminal background after 2019 Lok Sabha
elections, of which 18% had serious crimes.
This means, a steep 24% increase to what was after the 2014 elections. When the
data speaks for itself and sets a bad precedent every election, we almost think
if citizens deserve such leaders representing them?
Three ‘F’ for Citizens: Free, Fair & Faithful elections
Democracy is a continual participative operation and not something limited to a
cataclysmic periodic exercise. Credibility is the life-blood of institutions in
a democracy, as they say. The little man, in his multitude, marking his vote at
the poll does a social audit of his Parliament plus political choice of this
proxy.  Every citizen holds a right to vote  and it is right of the voters
to know about the past history including criminal records of the candidate
contesting elections. Political parties form the government and man the
The citizens should be ensured of enough information and resources to make an
, candidates inturn should foster and nurture such citizenry. It is
important to ensure that crime-politics nexus is zeroed by enforcing the
political parties to work with true faith and strive to uphold the allegiance
of our constitution.
It is disheartening to see that important seat at the Parliament being treated
as a paradise for criminals who look for unreasonable means of earning money,
and further escape the legal scrutiny by unruly use of power.
It is widely noted that:
If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity,
then they would be able to make the best even of a defective Constitution. If
they themselves are lacking in these, the Constitution cannot help the country.
After all, a Constitution like a machine is a lifeless thing.  It acquires
life because of the men who control it and operate it.
Ranging from expedite trials of cases or compulsory declaration in a more
efficient and transparent manner, India looks upto lot of these alternative
mechanisms to remove any criminal factors entering politics. The electorate
should be made aware of the role the elected representatives play in order to
ensure a vibrant democracy.
It is believed that any malignancy can be cured. Out in out, Criminalisation of
politics is fatal but of course not incurable. In India particularly where there
is so much scope of development and improvement, our resources are not put to
optimum use because of incapable representatives.
The current law limitation which bars convicted candidates from contesting,
comfortably ignores the ones being charged and still under trial. Hon’ble
Justice Dipak Mishra observed on this very point that:
It is one thing to take cover under the presumption of innocence of the
accused but it is equally imperative that persons who enter public life and
participate in law making should be above any kind of serious criminal
Though the essence of criminal jurisprudence clearly describes a man to be
innocent until proven guilty but a law barring someone from contesting based on
allegations will be fair because it only clarifies the type of persons who are
suitable for holding representative public office in India.
All of this leads us to restore faith and dignity in the process of election
and governance among citizens. In a situation where people largely have no faith
and walk along the assumption that nothing’s going to improve in India, a law
disqualifying candidates having criminal background will be justified. It is
only imperative for our legislation to act before situation worsens.
Written by Abhishek Iyer,
- Public Interest Foundation vs Union Of India, W.P. (Civil) 536 of 2011.
- ADR, Lok Sabha Elections 2019 Analysis of Criminal Background,
Financial, Education, Gender and other details of Winners, https://adrindia.org/content/lok-sabha-elections-2019-analysis-criminal-background-financial-education-gender-and-other (Last
visited: 20th October, 2019).
- Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Officer, 1978 AIR 851.
- Const Art. 326.
- Association For Democratic vs Union Of India, AIR 2001 Delhi 126.
- 244Th Report On Electoral Disqualifications, Law Commission of India.
a 3rd Year B.A.-LL.B. Student at Gujarat
National Law University, Gandhinagar