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Published : October 07, 2014 | Author : swativyas
Category : Criminal law | Total Views : 4886 | Rating :

I am Swati Vyas. I hail from Jaipur (Rajasthan) and a Law graduate (B.A LL.B Hons. five year law college, university of rajasthan jaipur). Presently pursuing LL.M. from Department of Law, Rajasthan University, Jaipur

Criminalization of Politics

In the wake of numerous baffling problems that our country is facing today, criminalisation of politics is one of the biggest. In order to explain the current position of our country's political system and the attitude of our politicians ,former Justice Chandra Shekhar Dharmadhi Rani in his book –

'Lok Tantra Nyay Avom Rahon Ke Anvesh' his aptly quoted

"Jeet gaye to Minister,
Haar gaye to Governor,
Retire ho gaya to Vice Chancellor.
Our kuch nai to Sarvoday Sanstha hai hi.."

This kind of attitude of our politicians could be traced back from time to Napoleon when he said that Great difficulty with the politics is that there are no established principles. He noted that politics and principles seldom gell with each other. The growing criminalization of politics and politicization of criminals have taken heavy toll on the policng of the country.

India as a country has been placed at the lowest of rungs on the international ladder of corruption prevalent among the countries of the world, with the Scandinavian countries on the upper rungs. How has this come about in a country which has been proud of its holy Scriptures and advice of sages like Adi Shankracharya, Swami Vivekanand, Ram Krishna Param Hansa which were given after years of meditation and self-sacrifices?

The basic inception of this evil started with our opportunistic leaders which has permeated down to the babus and officialdom. This downside became more pronounced after the split in Congress in 1969. Setting the trends for adverse socio-political conditions in the country. The stalwarts of the time, who were considered principled leaders, were sidetracked and sent into oblivion. A new generation of our political parties where was amibtious, greedy and placing self before the country came to forefront.

Unfortunately, over the years the situation has been allowed to become worst. On 28 August 1997, the election commissioner GVG Krishna Murti Startled the nation by revealing statistic, showing politicization of criminals. According to him, of the 1,37,752 candidates who contested elections in L.S. Election 1996, nearly 1500 has criminal records of henious offences. UP, Bihar were on the top.If we take an overview of today's situation – A total of 4807 sitting MPs and MLAs as on August 2013, 1960 had criminal records. The Government of India woke up belatedly to this alarming situation. On 31st August 1997 the House passed a resolution saying inter alia that -

"more especially, all political parties shall undertake all such steps as well as attain the objective of ridding of our policy of criminalization or its influence"

But it remained only a pious resolution and a paper exercise.

Moreover, on 2 May 2002, the Supreme Court delivered a historic judgment that every candidate contesting election at all levels has to declare his/her criminal records, his financial records and educational qualification. This was implemented during Lok Sabha Election held in April 2004, but oddly enough, it has not been possible to prevent persons with criminal records from entering Lok Sabha. Barring exceptions all parties have their skeleton in their cupboards.

In the recent past several Commission have been set up to examine the issue of electoral and political reforms. They include the following Goswami Committee (1990), Vodra Committee Report (1993) Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Election Reforms (1999), 2001, 2004. The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008) etc.

Apart from the above on the legal front, once again after the Union of India v/s Association of Democratic Reforms Case on 2002 and, the Lily Thomas Versus Union of India & Ors, The Apex Court on 10 July 2013 took an initiative to cleanse our politics from criminals. Single Judge decision delivered by Justice A.K. Patanik turned down the safeguard provided in Sec. 8 (4) of the Representation of People Act, 1957 which allowed convicted MPs, MLAs and MLCs to continue their post, provided they appealed against their conviction within three months of date of judgment. Declaring this ultra vires the Constitution the Supreme Court in the above locus classicus has engendered a legal debate vis-a-vis parliaments power to enact such a legislation. While the Democratic Reform's case proved to be pace setter in unvelling the antecendents of criminals contesting elections, the Lily Thomas Case may prove to be milestone in reforming the politicans in legislatures.

Notwithstanding, these efforts, the evil that has crept into politics merits for special attention. This prevailing trend is spreading like cancer. It is nullifying all the constitutional safeguards of democracy that is it is spoiling bureaucracy by making its partial; it thwarts press; and even threatens judiciary; and thus, is destroying the very foundation of democracy.The Bristishers followed the policy of divide and rule, after India, became independent, our politicians have become post masters of the art of creating groups and inciting them against one another. They want to fish in the troubled waters and when the water is placid, they trouble it to achieve their selfish ends.

In the light of the above side-effects of the evil of criminalization of politics, there could be following possible, practical and permanent solution to this problem –

# Legislative changes could be introduced.
# Media should play more active but conscious role in brining out the naked faces of criminals involved in political system.
# Unlike other democracies, the corporate sector has not yet come forward to engage openly with improving elections and governance. Their actions are behind the veils.
# On the legal front, out sparkling judiciary should play more vibrant role without any fear.
# Last but not the least, civil societies, NGO, etc. voters should play on active role. If voters stop taking bribes and stop voting for the criminals, the system will automatically change.
# An innovative step could be to make 'a right to reject and recall' a fundamental right of every voters and thereby securing Article 324 of the constitutional which is a reservoir of power to act for avowed purpose of having free and fair political system.
# Simultaneous conducting of LS Assembly Elections.

The above mentioned changes of implemented could perhaps the best Guarantee for De-criminalization of politics.

In nutshell, it would be appropriate to say eradication of three Cs – Cash Corruption and criminality could lead our country towards vibrant polity and democracy, because,

"Democracy disciplined and enlightened is the finest thing in the world. A democracy prejudiced, ignorant, superstitions, will land itself in choos." - M.K. Gandhi

The author can be reached at: swativyas@legalserviceindia.com

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