Decriminalising politics: Supreme Court order will improve electoral democracy, says Election Commission

New Delhi: In the wake of a far-reaching Supreme Court verdict at decriminalising Indian politics, Election Commission on Friday (February 14) welcomed the top court order and said it will go a long way in setting new moral yardsticks for improving electoral democracy, said a statement by the poll panel. 

On Thursday, the apex court directed political parties to upload on their websites and social media platforms the details of pending criminal cases against their candidates and the reasons for selecting them as also for not giving a ticket to those without criminal antecedents.

Earlier on October 10, 2018, the Commission had issued detailed instructions and guidelines along with an amended form of affidavit for ensuring the publicity of criminal antecedents by the candidates and the concerned political parties for the information of voters. 

“This is being implemented in all the elections since November 2018. Now, Commission proposes to reiterate these instructions with suitable modifications in order to implement the directions of Hon’ble Supreme Court in letter as well as in spirit,” the EC said.

Notably, the apex court invoked Article 129 and Article 142 of the Constitution while issuing its order:

1. It shall be mandatory for political parties [at the Central and State election level] to upload on their website detailed information regarding individuals with pending criminal cases (including the nature of the offences, and relevant particulars such as whether charges have been framed, the concerned Court, the case number etc.) who have been selected as candidates, along with the reasons for such selection, as also as to why other individuals without criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.

2. The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the qualifications, achievements, and merit of the candidate concerned, and not mere “winnability” at the polls.

3. This information shall also be published in: (a) One local vernacular newspaper and one national newspaper; (b) On the official social media platforms of the political party, including Facebook & Twitter.

4. These details shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier.

5. The political party concerned shall then submit a report of compliance with these directions with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate.

6. If a political party fails to submit such a compliance report with the Election Commission, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.

Source: zeenews

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