Editorial: Strong words

The Supreme Court on Tuesday warned Parliament that the nation is losing patience with the advent of criminals in politics even as it imposed fines on major political parties, including the BJP and Congress, for covering up from voters the criminal past of the candidates they had fielded in the Bihar Assembly polls last year.

The apex court directed that political parties must publish the criminal antecedents of candidates within 48 hours of their selection.

A bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai modified its 13 February, 2020, judgment in this regard. The Supreme Court was hearing a contempt plea seeking action against political parties which failed to declare and publicise criminal antecedents of their candidates.

Last month, the Supreme Court said the legislature was ‘not likely to do anything’ to prevent criminals from entering politics and standing for elections. In its February 2020 judgment, linked to the Bihar Assembly election, the Supreme Court said candidates must upload these details either within 48 hours of their selection or at least two weeks before the first date for filing of nomination papers.

The Supreme Court has held eight political parties, including the BJP and Congress, guilty of contempt for not making public criminal records of their poll candidates. The top court imposed fine of Rs 5 lakh each on National Communist Party (NCP) and CPI(M) for not following the order in last year’s Bihar assembly polls, and Rs 1 lakh each on BJP, Congress, Janata Dal, RJD, CPI and LJP.

The action came soon after the bench directed political parties to make public criminal records of their poll candidates within 48 hours of their selection. Politics should not be a safe haven for criminals.

 

NT Bureau