Day 67 – Q 1. With increasing criminalization of politics, do you think a strict law should be made to bar people with criminal record to contest in elections? Critically analyse.
1. With increasing criminalization of politics, do you think a strict law should be made to bar people with criminal record to contest in elections? Critically analyse.
As per a report by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) 34% of the ministers have criminal cases against them. Also, the percentage of parliamentarians with a criminal background went up by more than 10 percentage points in 10 years, from 23% in 2004 to 34% in 2014.
Recently, the Supreme court has recommended that the Parliament must make law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter into the political stream. Such a law should be made:
- Rule of law- A clean political system will ensure the prevalence of rule of law instead of rule of politicians.
- Improved governance- Honest politicians would need to work for their constituencies to secure votes, hence improving the overall governance.
- End vicious cycle- Crime in politics breeds more criminals. Cleaning will help end this vicious cycle.
- Opportunity to new leaders- Many good leaders and youth often stay away from politics due to prevalence of crime. Clean up will help attract new talent to the political arena.
It might not be helpful:
- Though the Representation of the People Act disqualifies a sitting legislator or a candidate on certain grounds, there is nothing regulating the appointments to offices within the party.
- A politician may be disqualified from being a legislator, but he may continue to hold high positions within his party, thus also continuing to play an important public role which he has been deemed unfit for by the law.
- Convicted politicians may continue to influence law-making by controlling the party and fielding proxy candidates in legislature
- Rates of conviction are too low and trials themselves are subject to long delays as highlighted by a recent Law commission report.
- False cases may be filed as a tool of political vendetta.
- The definition of heinous crimes may change as per times and societal conditions.
- Fast-track courts
- Greater transparency in campaign financing
- Promoting inner party democracy
- Check on election finances
- Broader governance will have to improve for voters to reduce the reliance on criminal politicians
Various committees like N.N. Vohra Committee, Goswami Committee on Electoral Reforms and Law Commission of India have highlighted the importance of decriminalization of politics. It is important to take necessary steps to ensure decriminalisation of politics by way of cleaning the electoral process.
Best answer: Shri