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%,EI?KII1J
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Discussit Criminalisation

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Discussit Criminalisation

  1. 1. %,EI?KII1J Read on ................................... Criminalisation access basic support systems, they are willing to vote for politicians with tainted backgrounds, if the latter are able to resolve some of of Politics their most basic problems, such as food, shelter, water and other essential services which the state has failed to provide. According - Ajay Garg to some political scientists, ever Congress party-led government since the 1970s, when popular In the past few weeks, India's are in a similar position. movements to protest at former elected representatives have been in It doesn't take a genius to figure prime minister Indira Gandhi's news- and for all the wrong reasons. that corruption is one of the root rule surfaced, law breakers They were not in the news because causes for such malaise. acquired a certain glamour and of some important policy decision Corruption begins with exorbitant respectability. In many cases, the that they had taken, nor were they election budgets of candidates. The law has been flouted deliberately in the news because they did statutory limit - Rs 15 lakh for a Lok in order to claim popularity. something significant to help the Sabha seat (depending on the But why is it that such people downtrodden. Be it Shibu Soren, constituency and the number of are allowed to contest elections in who was remanded in custody over voters), Rs 3 to 6 lakh for state the first case? It is important to note a 30 year old case, Laloo Prasad legislatures (depending on the that Indian law assumes innocence Yadav attempting to bribe voters area), and Rs 75,000 for municipal until guilt is established, and a ahead of the Assembly elections in corporators - is too less. In practice, politician is barred from office only Bihar or Pappu Yadav, who has the expenses incurred by if actually convicted for a crime. flouted every possible rule in the jail candidates are much more; the And considering the deep morass manual; there is a great tendency funds usually incurred on the basis that seems to have set into our among India's elected of quid pro quo by the business judicial system, establishing guilt representatives to at some point or world or the underworld. Once the is easier said than done. Cases the other brush with the law. 1 candidate becomes an MP, MLA or come up for hearing years after the a minister, he has to reciprocate to crime has been committed, the n 1996, the country's Election his donors in a big way. This is the alleged perpetrator of the crime Commission found that over root cause of corruption. becomes more powerful, and 70 parliamentarians and more Corruption at higher levels of witnesses, if they do not disappear, than 100 elected political leadership perpetrates to representatives in state the bureaucracy and other wings assemblies had an alleged of administration like the police or quot;criminal backgroundquot;. In recent the Public Works Department. It years, the number of elected travels down the entire representatives facing charges, bureaucratic apparatus and reprimands from courts and reaches the unwitting civilian. convictions has only increased. In Along with money power, muscle the previous Bharatiya Janata power has also polluted elections. Party-led government, there were It will be interesting to note the three ministers who continued in context in which politics is getting office despite having charges and increasingly criminalised. In a court proceedings against them. At scene where the poor and least six ministers in the new marginalized find it difficult to
  2. 2. %,EI?KII1J Read on ................................... turn hostile. Is the system in some papers. The Supreme Court has kind of a black hole from where ruled that all the three there is no way out? Not all is lost, declarations will have to be and sincere attempts have been truthful. The premise was that the made to tackle this menace. people and the voters have the Another aspect of the same issue right to know about the concerns false charges. To accuse candidate's criminal record, assets is very simple, but to prove is and liabilities and educational difficult and time consuming. qualifications. The Returning Thus, if people who are merely Officer has to publish these accused of breaking the law (even declarations for the voters' falsely) were debarred from knowledge and, surely, the people contesting elections then the naked will get an opportunity to know name-calling and defaming in about their candidate's Indian politics would suddenly background. Not surprisingly, don, albeit regrettably, legal robes. political parties gave a cold The Union Government, all shoulder to the court's directives. political parties and several NGOs The government bought about an including our quot;Citizens for ordinance, which effectively National Consensusquot; (CNC) have diluted the key provisions of this been advocating electoral reforms directive. with a view to strengthening The need of the hour is to democracy at various levels. Sadly, participate wholeheartedly and despite promises, political parties willingly in the democratic have not brought about the system. Unless voter turnout required changes in the improves from the existing Representation of Peoples' Act numbers, small groups of voters (RPA). In 2002, the Supreme Court constituting quot;vote banksquot; will gave a historic ruling following the continue to have a decisive say in public interest litigation by an who rules us. Pressure groups NGO. It ruled that every have to be formed to ensure that candidate, contesting an election to the citizen's right to know details Parliament, State Legislatures or about candidates from his Municipal Corporation, has to constituency is not tampered with declare the following along with in any which way. Needless to the application for his candidature: say, these developments have to A candidate’s criminal records be in conjunction with (convictions, acquittals and strengthening the basic judicial charges etc). system in our country. People The candidate’s financial should not vote into power those records (assets liabilities etc). who they want to become rich, but The candidate’s educational those who will enrich the nation. qualifications. Only then we will move from If the candidate fails to file any being the World's Largest of the above three declarations, the Democracy to being it's Greatest Returning Officer will have the Democracy. right to reject his nomination

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