The Supreme Court on 13 February has directed all the political parties to upload their Parliamentary and Assembly elections candidate’s criminal record details, along with the reasons for the selection of those with criminal antecedents, on their websites, within 48 hours of the selection of the candidates.
The bench headed by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman was hearing a contempt petition filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking action against the authorities, claiming that the directions given by the apex court in the September 2018 ruling on disclosure of the pending criminal cases of their election candidates were not being followed. Subsequently, the court directed the parties to publish credentials, achievements, and criminal antecedents of candidates on social media platforms.
The bench also stated that the political parties, upon clearing the name of the candidates must submit a report regarding publication within 24 hours after the nomination of the candidate. On failure to comply with the order, it will amount to contempt, stated the court while allowing the Election Commission to file a contempt petition in the top court if political parties did not comply with the directives.
“A move to steer politics away from the denizens of the criminal world would definitely serve the national and public interest,” stated Justice Nariman.
Earlier, in September 2018, a five-judge bench of the apex court headed by the then Chief Justice Dipak Misra had urged the Parliament to bring a “strong law” to cleanse parties of leaders facing trial for serious crimes. The court has further issued guidelines, including that both the candidate and the party should declare the criminal antecedents of the former in widely circulated newspapers.