“Deep Slumber”: Supreme Court Fines Parties Over Criminal Candidates (10-08-2021)

Nine parties including the BJP and Congress were held guilty of contempt and eight fined today for not widely publicising the criminal records of their 2020 Bihar candidates. The parties “refuse to wake up from deep slumber”, the Supreme Court said.

Here are the top 10 points in this big story:

1.    The Congress, BJP and five more parties were fined ? 1 lakh each and the CPM and Nationalist Congress Party were fined ? 5 lakh for not making public their candidates' criminal cases ahead of the Bihar election in November.

2.    Records of criminal cases have to be made public by parties within 48 hours of the candidate's selection, the Supreme Court said in a big step to cleanse politics.

3.    The court's verdict said 51 per cent of the winning candidates in Bihar have serious criminal cases against them like murder, kidnapping and rape. It did acknowledge the possibility of rivals implicating someone falsely as vendetta.

4.    “Despite repeated appeals, political parties refuse to wake up from deep slumber,” said the Supreme Court. “Political lawmakers will wake up soon and carry out major surgery for weeding out the malignancy of criminalisation of politics,” the court noted in its order.

5.    The Supreme Court's appeals had “fallen on deaf ears”, said Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavi. “Though we want to do something urgently, our hands are tied, we can't encroach the domain of legislature,” they remarked.

6.    The Supreme Court warned that the parties, in future, must display the information on their websites. The Election Commission has been asked to create a mobile app that has the information for voters to access easily.

7.    To stop state governments from misusing their powers, the court also said criminal cases against MLAs or MPs cannot be withdrawn without approval from High Courts.

8.    The court was hearing petitions that call for suspending symbols of parties that had failed to disclose the criminal backgrounds of their candidates.

9.    Petitions had asked for contempt against parties for not obeying the February 2020 order of the Supreme Court. In that order, parties were ordered to publicise candidates' records within 48 hours of their selection or at least two weeks before the first date of filing nomination papers. Parties also had to explain why they chose such candidates.

10.  The CPM and NCP had given an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court after the Election Commission said it would suspend their symbols.


11 Aug 2021