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The Supreme Court de­cided last week that it would leave it to Par­lia­ment to leg­is­late to pre­vent politi­cians with se­ri­ous charges against them from con­test­ing elec­tions. The court agreed that there was a “steady in­crease in the level of crim­i­nal­ity creep­ing into pol­i­tics”, but in­sisted it was not its place to im­pose new rules. It did, how­ever, ask for in­creased trans­parency, for can­di­dates and par­ties to pub­lish crim­i­nal his­to­ries to en­able vot­ers to make in­formed choices. Al­ready, the court, in 2013, ruled that con­victed crim­i­nals, who had been sen­tenced to more than two years in prison, would not be per­mit­ted to con­tinue as MPs or con­test polls for six years after their re­lease. The Elec­tion Com­mis­sion has told the SC that it sup­ports a life­time ban for politi­cians con­victed of cer­tain crimes. But the court, aware of the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers, left it to Par­lia­ment to frame such a law. But is that House, in which a third of the mem­bers face crim­i­nal charges, of­ten ‘heinous’, mo­ti­vated to ef­fect this change?


Lok Sabha MPs or 184 out of 542 win­ners an­a­lysed by the As­so­ci­a­tion for Demo­cratic Re­forms (ADR), face crim­i­nal charges; 98/282 mem­bers of the BJP (35%) and 8/44 Congress MPs (18%)


Spe­cial courts sanc­tioned by the govern­ment to fast track tri­als this year, with a bud­get of Rs 7.8 crore; 41% (1,233) of cases trans­ferred to these courts, and ver­dicts de­liv­ered in just 136 (11%)


Chance of win­ning an elec­tion for can­di­dates with a crim­i­nal back­ground, an ADR anal­y­sis of 2014 Lok Sabha polls showed; 5% for can­di­dates with clean records


MPs and MLAs out of 4,896 (36%) leg­is­la­tors in Par­lia­ment and state as­sem­blies face crim­i­nal charges in 3,045 tri­als, the Cen­tre told the Supreme Court in March this year


Con­vic­tions in crim­i­nal cases in­volv­ing MPs and MLAs, as per af­fi­davit sub­mit­ted to the SC by the govern­ment on Septem­ber 11, 2018; 560 ac­quit­tals, a con­vic­tion rate of 6.4%


Sit­ting MPs have charges of hate speech pend­ing against them, and 43 MLAs, says ADR; 10/15 MPs and 17/43 MLAs are from the BJP


Years that an MP can­di­date is barred from con­test­ing elec­tions, if con­victed for a crime pun­ish­able with 2 years in jail and hav­ing served their sen­tence

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