The case derives its roots from a case of 2018- Public Interest Foundation v. UOI wherein the Supreme Court, in September, directed the candidates interested in polling first to declare their criminal antecedents if any to the Election Commission and publicise this particular details on Social Media and Print Media at least thrice to make the people aware about the candidate on whom they are spending their valuable vote. If the parties did not follow these guidelines, the Election Commission would be responsible for bringing it to the notice of the highest court of appeal that the contempt of court has been committed. Regardless of these guidelines laid by the honourable court neither the parties nor the Election Commission followed against which petitioner Rambabu Singh Thakur filed a contempt petition, and the respondent was Sunil Arora & others. Hence, it was seen that the September 2018 case, also known as Electoral Disqualification case did not prove to be a fear factor guideline which was to be strictly followed, and contempt of court was made.
QUESTION OF LAW-
- It has been directed in section 8 of The People’s Representation Act that a person is barred from contesting elections for six years if he/she went through a jail term of more than two years and at the same time, it doesn’t apply to the ones facing trial irrespective of how grave the charges are. Doesn’t it allow more and more increase of criminalisation of politics?
- Whether the Supreme Court can exercise its powers and decrees on contempt of court stated under Articles 129 and 142 and use that to implement the guidelines of Electoral Disqualification Case.
- The court while addressing and recognising the increasing criminalisation in politics with a rate of 24% in 2004 to 43% in 2019 directed the political parties to mention and state the reason of selecting a candidate with a criminal record on its website along with all of the details of his charges and type of crime and everything.
- Also, the Apex Court imposed a compulsion of submitting the agreement report of selecting that candidate to the Election Commission of India within 72 hours of his/her selection.
- The candidate is required to state the facts clearly about the pending criminal cases against him/her.
- The Election Commission would be accountable to report the Supreme Court in case of disobedience by the parties.
- The Candidates, as well as the political parties, are required to issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspaper (one local vernacular and one national) and electronic media at least thrice after the filing of nomination papers. Also, it should be within 48 hours after the selection of the candidate.
- The cause of selection should include merit, achievement and qualification as mere the ability of winning would not suffice the purpose.
Submitted By: Anjali Pandey