Advocate Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay, filled a plea in the Supreme Court to debar persons against whom serious offences have been framed from contesting elections by directing the Centre and Election Commission seeking a writ, in the nature of mandamus.
The plea gives attention to the various reforms recommended by the Committees over the years such as recommendations made by the Jaya Prakash Narayan Committee in 1974, Goswami Committee in 1990 & Vohra Committee in 1993 but the states failed to implement the suggestions given by these committees.
In the plea it is stated that “On 24.02.2014, the Law Commission submitted its 244th report on decriminalization of politics, but Centre still did nothing. On 12.03.2015, the Law Commission submitted its 255th report on Electoral Reform, but Centre took no steps to implement them. On 05.12.2016, Election Commission again suggested steps for electoral & democratic reform, but Centre did not implement them.”
The petitioner stated that out of 539 winners in the 17th Lok Sabha Elections in 2019, 43% declared criminal cases against themselves.
The petitioner stated that the injury caused to people is large because criminalization of politics is at an extreme level. “Political parties are still setting-up candidates with serious criminal records. Therefore, voters find it difficult to cast their vote freely and fairly, though it is their fundamental right, guaranteed under Article 19,” the petitioner added. “The consequences of permitting criminals to contest elections and become legislators are extremely serious for our democracy and secularism,” the plea reads.
Depending upon the above, it is asserted that when 43% of MP’s in the Lok Sabha have criminal cases pending against them, then it would not come as a surprise that a Parliamentary Standing Committee in 2007 itself simply rejected the recommendation of the Law Commission in its 170th Report and the Election Commission’s “Proposal for Electoral Reforms” to bring changes in the Representation of the People Act, to impose an electoral disqualification on persons against whom charges have been framed for serious offences punishable by sentences of 5 years or more