Despite various laws to prevent criminalization of politics in India, the entry of people with criminal antecedents in politics is still prevalent. In the light of several judicial pronouncements related to this, suggest some remedial measures.
Criminalization of politics is detrimental to national interest. Various statutory and legal permissions are enacted to prevent it.
Representation of People Act (1951):
- Disqualification of elected legislators found guilty of electoral offences.
- Disqualification if convicted with imprisonment of more than two years.
- Lily Thomas case: immediate disqualification on conviction, no 90 days period to appeal.
- Cases involving criminalization of politics to be decided within one year.
- Setting up of special courts to try such cases.
- Additionally, 10th schedule provides for disqualification on defection – preventing horse trading.
Issues arising with criminalization:
- Use of muscle power.
- Use of money power (influencing voters).
- Corrupt practices, black money.
- Horse trading, erosion of trust of voters.
- Unequal justice, Politicians going scot-free for crimes.
- Political violence.
- Implementing Lily Thomas guidelines.
- Sensitization of police to political violence.
- Robust audit mechanism to check misuse of funds.
- Flying squads, expenditure observance during elections.
- Electoral bonds to reduce use of unaccounted wealth in elections.
- Speedy trial of cases involving politicians.
For a healthy democracy to function, it is imperative that its leaders are free from criminal antecedents. Judicial and legal announcement in this regard should be adhered to.
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