How Can Criminals & Corrupt People Head A Political Party, Questions CJI Dipak Misra

CJI Dipak Misra on February 12, questioned the rationale behind appointing people with past criminal records as head of a political party saying that it completely goes against the purity of the election process.

Far worse is the prospect of democracy when such a criminal at the head of political party has the power and authority to choose candidates who would contest elections under his party’s banner, Chief Justice Misra observed heading a three-judge Bench, reports The Hindu.

The Chief Justice of India speaks

“How can a convicted person be an office-bearer of a political party and select candidates to contest elections? This goes against our judgements that corruption in politics [are] to be ostracised from the purity of elections,” Chief Justice Misra orally observed, addressing the government and the Election Commission of India.

“So, is it that what you cannot do individually (that is contest elections), you can do collectively through some of your agents?” Chief Justice asked.

“A man cannot directly contest an election, so he constitutes a group of persons to form a political party and contest an election,” Chief Justice Misra said.

Chief Justice said people can form “an association of people to do philanthropic activities like having a hospital or a school,” as The Hindu reports, “But when it comes to the field of governance, it is different,” he mentioned.

The Court said that a reform would be included to stop corrupt people or people with criminal records from holding any party position.

Election Commission seeks to de-register parties

The Supreme Court last year in December, sought to examine whether the Election Commission of India should be given the power to de-register political parties that have people with a criminal background as the head or as an office-bearer.

Advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who filed the petition said that if such people are not allowed to contest elections, then these people should not also be given the right to form a political party or be a crucial member of the party.

“Presently, even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, sedition, loot, dacoity etc. can form a political party and become party president,” the petition contended.

The petition had also sought to declare Section 29A of the Representation of People Act of 1951 as “arbitrary, irrational and ultra-vires the Constitution and authorise the Election Commission of India for registration and de-registration of political parties as suggested by the Goswami Committee on Electoral Reform,” reports The Hindu.

“The proliferation of political parties has become a major concern as Section 29A allows a small group of people to form a political party by making a very simple declaration. Presently, about 20% of registered political parties contest an election and remaining 80% parties create excessive load on the electoral system and public money,” the petition said.

The petition said registration should be a carefully monitored affair by the EC as “political parties hold constitutional status and wield constitutional powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution in as much as they have the power to disqualify legislators from Parliament and State Assemblies, bind legislators in their speeches and voting inside the house, decide what laws are made, decide whether Government remains in power and decide public policies that affect lives of millions of people.”

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