The Supreme Court now obliges political parties to publish the judicial past of all candidates for election.
This is one of the curiosities of the largest democracy in the world (1.3 billion inhabitants): in India, you can have a criminal record that is not blank and stand for local or national elections without any problem. The phenomenon is growing, since in the National Assembly elected in May 2019, 43% of deputies are in this situation, while they were 34% in 2014, 30% in 2009 and 24% in 2004.
To curb this phenomenon, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday 13 February that political parties will now have the obligation to “Publish the criminal record” of their representatives “On their website and in the press”, before the exercise of universal suffrage. The parties will have to justify why the candidates without a clean record still got the nomination.
“As well intentioned as it is, this initiative will not solve anything”, believes the Hindustan Times in his editorial of February 14. Certainly politicians with a criminal record “distort “ the democratic game: “Even those who have committed a rape or a crime can escape justice” thanks to the immunity that protects them once elected. But we know from experience that when the governments in place adopt these kinds of measures, “It’s to target their political rivals.”
For everyday business Mint, the real question is “Why parties choose candidates with a criminal record”. For the moment, “Indian law prohibits anyone sentenced to more than two years in prison from standing for election within six years of their release”. Justice is “So slow” only with a little influence and favoritism “Criminals can escape it for the duration of their political career”.
But beware: being accused does not necessarily mean that you are guilty. In India, “The police are under political control and are often complicit in false accusations to defame the opponent of those in power.” So it should come as no surprise that only half of the elected officials have a clean record.