September 25, 2018
In a landmark judgment, the Five-Judge Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court has today held that candidates contesting election cannot be disqualified merely because charges have been framed against them in a criminal case.
The much-awaited verdict of the Apex Court came in the case Public Interest Foundation & Ors v. Union of India & anr., whereby the enormous concern was to curb criminalization of politics in a democratic body polity and the seminal issue that fell for consideration before the Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice, Dipak Misra was whether disqualification for membership can be laid down by the Court beyond Article 102(a) to (d) and the law made by the Parliament under Article 102(e)?
The Bench while pronouncing its verdict made reference to catena of judgments and the Law Commission Report and subsequently issued the following directions in the case:
- Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain all the particulars as required therein;
- It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal cases pending against the candidate;
- If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the criminal cases pending against him/her;
- The concerned political party shall be obligated to put up on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates having criminal antecedents;
- The candidate as well as the concerned political party shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide publicity, we mean that the 98 same shall be done at least thrice after filing of the nomination papers.
The Bench also remarked in the case that “a time has come that the Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream.”
The entire case can be accessed here.