38.6c New Delhi, India, Sunday, April 21, 2024
Legislative Corner

Supreme Court: Voters Have Right To Know Candidate’s Criminal Records

By LawStreet News Network      29 August, 2018 12:00 AM      0 Comments
Supreme Court: Voters Have Right To Know Candidate’s Criminal Records

The Supreme Court on August 28th, 2018 said that the voters have a right to know the antecedents of candidates and the Election Commission could be asked to direct political parties to ensure that persons, facing criminal charges, do not contest on their tickets using their poll symbols.

The court has reserved its judgment on a batch of petitions after the parties including the poll panel and the Centre concluded their arguments.

The matter came up for hearing before a five-judge Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra. The matter involved the question whether a legislator facing criminal trial can be disqualified at the stage of framing of charges in a case. Presently, lawmakers are barred at the time of conviction.

"The voters have the right to know the candidates. Actually, a party can allow a person to contest on its ticket. But a person cannot contest on its ticket if he discloses the criminal antecedent," the bench said, adding that this direction may be given by the Election Commission to the political parties. "They (people facing criminal charges) can contest elections, but they will not contest on the party ticket because he has this kind of stigma," the bench said.

The bench's observation came in the backdrop of strong opposition from the Centre that the judiciary should not venture into the legislative arena by creating a pre-condition which would adversely affect the right of the candidates to participate in polls.

"The intention of the Lordships is laudable. But the question is whether the court can do it. The answer is 'no'," Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, told the bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

Moreover, referring to the concept of presumption of innocence until a person is proven guilty, Venugopal said depriving a person from contesting elections on a party ticket would amount to denial of the right to vote, which also included the right to contest.

He referred to various judgments and said the expression of criminal antecedent was "extremely vague". Moreover he added that the, "presumption of innocence is central to our criminal jurisprudence. A person is innocent until proven guilty."

Taking an opposite view from the Centre, the Election Commission urged the court to intervene to ensure that elections are decriminalized.

Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing for the poll panel, referred to the recommendations made by the Election Commission and the Law Commission way back in 1997 and 1998 for decriminalizing politics, but no action was taken by the government on them.

She exhorted the court to issue the direction in the matter besides asking Parliament to make the suitable law.

Share this article:

User Avatar

Leave a feedback about this

Trending Judiciary
SC orders medical examination of 14-yr-old rape survivor seeking to terminate her 28-week pregnancy

Supreme Court orders medical examination of 14-year-old rape survivor seeking termination of 28-week pregnancy. Decision to be made after evaluating impact on her health.

20 April, 2024 11:00 AM


Trending Legal Insiders
Need to safeguard judiciary from unwarranted pressures: 21 ex-judges write letter to CJI

21 ex-judges write to CJI Chandrachud urging protection of judiciary from pressures undermining its integrity and autonomy.

15 April, 2024 12:17 PM
Trending Judiciary
SC notice to ED; declines early date on plea by Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal against arrest

SC issues notice to ED, declines early hearing on Delhi CM Kejriwal's plea against arrest in liquor scam.

15 April, 2024 03:08 PM
Trending Law School
Call For Chapters: Gender-Based Violence and Religion

Calling For Book Chapters: As an editor, Dr. Amit Anand, Assistant Professor, School of Legal Studies, REVA University, Bengaluru, is inviting people to contribute to a book, entitled "Gender-Based Violence and Religion." This book is scheduled to be published by Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

15 April, 2024 04:21 PM
Trending Top Stories
Cannot stop any public rally, Bombay HC on allegation that Ram Navami processions deliberately pass through Muslim-majority areas

The Bombay High Court calls upon the Maharashtra Police to ensure that no law and order issues occur during a Ram Navami rally in a Muslim-majority area in Mumbai.

15 April, 2024 06:36 PM


Join Group

Signup for Our Newsletter

Get Exclusive access to members only content by email