Criminalization of Politics - Daily Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations


Criminalization of Politics - Daily Current Affair Article for UPSC, IAS, Civil Services and State PCS Examinations


References: -

Recently Supreme Court made it mandatory for political parties to publish the criminal cases on selected candidate .

Introduction:

Criminalization of Politics means that the criminals entering the politics and contesting elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature. It takes place primarily because of the nexus between the criminals and some of the politicians.

Present situation:-

  • Cases on 43% MPs: Out of 542 MPs, 233 i.e. 43% MPs have criminal cases pending. According to the affidavits, 159 i.e. 29 percent of MPs have serious cases pending against them like murder, rape and kidnapping.
  • Tainted 116 elected BJP MPs: An analysis of affidavits of 301 out of 303 BJP MPs found that criminal cases were going on against 116 MPs including Sadhvi Pragya Singh.
  • 204 cases against Congress MP Kuriakose: Newly elected Congress MP from Kerala Dean Kuriakose is the first in the list with 204 pending cases. 29 out of 52 Congress MPs are involved in criminal cases
  • All major parties have tainted MPs: All six elected members of the ruling RJD's constituent LJP, half of the BSP (5 out of 10), 13 of the JDU's 16, nine of the Trinamool Congress's 22 and three of the CPI-M. Two MPs are facing criminal cases. In this case, only one member of the 12 elected BJD MPs has declared the affidavit of criminal case against them.
  • Cases on the highest number of MPs in Bihar and Bengal: Kerala and Bihar got the maximum number of MPs caught in criminal cases. Cases are pending on 90 per cent elected from Kerala, 82 per cent from Bihar, 55 per cent from West Bengal, 56 from Uttar Pradesh and 58 per cent from Maharashtra. On the other hand, the least nine percent of MPs are from Chhattisgarh and 15 percent from Gujarat.
  • 34% tainted in 16th Lok Sabha: Number of such MPs elected in 2014 election was 185 (34 percent), 112 MPs were running on serious cases.

Components:-

Muscle Power (Bahubal):-

The influence of muscle power in Indian politics has been a fact of life for a long time. As early as in 1977, the National Police Commission headed by Dharam Vira observed: ``The manner in which different political parties have functioned, particularly on the eve of periodic election, involves the free use of musclemen and 'Dadas' to influence the attitude and conduct of sizable sections of the electorate.

Money Power:-

The elections to Parliament and State Legislatures are very expensive and it is a widely accepted fact that huge election expenditure is the root cause for corruption in India. A candidate has to spend crores of rupees to get elected and even if he gets elected, the total salary he gets during his tenure as an MP/MLA will be meagre compared to his election expenses. How can he bridge the gap between the income and expenses? Publicly through donations and secretly through illegal means. They have money and muscle, so they win and help others in their party win as well.

Reasons of This Criminalization:

Vote Bank:

The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other illegitimate purposes through these criminals or so called gonads. A politician's link with them constituency provides a congenial climate to political crime. Those who do not know why they ought to vote comprise the majority of voters of this country. Therefore majority of the voters are maneuverable, purchasable. Which helps in building a big vote bank.

Corruption:-

In every election all parties without exception put up candidates with a criminal background. Even though some of us whine about the decision taken by the parties, the general trend is that these candidates are elected to office. This type of activities forces us to think whether the greatest power of democracy is to drive the disabled out of power?.

Loop Holes in the Functioning of Election Commission:

The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the politicians. The forms prescribed by the Election Commission for candidates disclosing their convictions, cases pending in courts and so on in their nomination papers is a step in the right direction if it is applied properly. Too much should not be expected, however, from these disclosures. They would only inform people of the candidate's history and qualifications, but not prohibit them from casting their votes, regardless, in favor of a criminal.

Denial of Justice and Rule of Law:

Criminalization is a fact of Indian electoral politics today. The voters, political parties and the law and order machinery of the state are all equally responsible for this. There is very little faith in India in the efficacy of the democratic process in actually delivering good governance. This extends to accepting criminalization of politics as a fact of life. Toothless laws against convicted criminals standing for elections further encourage this process.

Unholy nexus between politicians and bureaucracy

The most important cause of criminalization of politics is the unholy nexus between politicians and bureaucracy. Ramchandra Guha (India after Gandhi) says, “In Jawaharlal Nehru’s time the civil service was shielded from politics, transfers, promotions and the like were decided within the executive branch itself. From the 1970s, however, individual bureaucrats came increasingly to ally with individual politicians or political parties. When the party they allied with was in power, they get the best postings. In return, they energetically implemented the partisan agenda of the politicians”.

Party system:-

The system of party government is also responsible for the criminalization of politics. On the eve of general election the leaders of the party give promises to the electorate. The purpose is to win the election. If the party luckily comes to power, the members of the ruling party try to implement the promises. The dark side of this situation is the party in power does not consider the feasibility and rationality of the action or promises unreasonable and impractical ways and techniques are adopted. This is a cause of criminalization of politics.

Measures of tackling:-

Vohra Committee: -

Vohra Committee observes "the various crime syndicate / mafia organizations have developed significant muscle and money power and established linkage with governmental functionaries, political leaders and others to be able to operate with impunity. As integrated by the Vohra Committee our elections involve a lot of black Money and it is this use of black money in elections which has also brought about the criminalization of politics.

Supreme Court's Judgment:

The Supreme Court judgment of May 2, 2002 mandated that candidates disclose their criminal antecedents, if any, as also their financial and educational background.

Right to Information Act and Criminalization of Politics:

The Court held that the right to information - the right to know antecedents, including the criminal past, or assets of candidates - was a fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution and that the information was fundamental for survival of democracy. In its Judgment of May 2, 2002, it directed the Election Commission to call for information on affidavit from each candidate seeking election to Parliament or the State Legislature as a necessary part of the nomination papers on: whether the candidate has been convicted / acquitted / discharged of any criminal offence in the past - if any, whether the candidate was accused in any pending case of any offenses punishable with imprisonment for two years or more, and in which charge was framed or cognizance taken by the court of law.

Recent Decision of Court :-

  • Flagging “an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics” and questioning parties for offering “no explanation” on “why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates in the first place” the supreme court made it mandatory for political parties to publish including on official social media pages ,detail of cases against their candidates and the reason for selecting them over others.
  • Apex Court said that “win ability of a candidate can’t be only reason for selection .

Way Forward:-

As we know that election is the process by which ‘people of India’ transfers their Sovernity to legislative bodies and Government. Therefore, to maintain the sanctity of this process, it is necessary to bring purity in the election and this decision of the Supreme Court will prove helpful in bringing this purity.

General Studies Paper- II

  • Polity and Governance

Mains Question:-

  • What do you understand by election? Why criminalization of politics needs to eliminate?

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