By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  With the aim of decriminalising politics, the Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that persons with criminal antecedents cannot be permitted to become lawmakers. It also said that parties will have to upload the criminal antecedents of their candidates on websites. 

However, the court refrained from issuing any directions to that effect, saying that such directions cannot be issued in the absence of a statutory foundation.

“In view of the constitutional scheme of separation of powers, though we desire that something urgently requires to be done in the matter, our hands are tied and we cannot transgress into the area reserved for the legislative arm of the State,” a bench comprising Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai said.

“The nation continues to wait, and is losing patience. Cleansing the polluted stream of politics is obviously not one of the immediate pressing concerns of the legislative branch of government,” the court added.

It observed that criminalisation in the Indian political system is growing day by day and opined that for maintaining purity of political system, persons with criminal antecedents and those involved in criminalisation of the political system should not be permitted to become lawmakers.

The Court issued a slew of directions to ensure that complete information regarding the criminal antecedents of the candidates be made available to the voters through adequate publication in the official websites and social media handles of the political parties and print media.

The court also imposed fine on political parties for failure to comply with the judgment of disclosing criminal antecedents of candidates contesting polls in Bihar.

Fines of Rs 5 lakh were imposed on CPI(M) and NCP and Rs 1 lakh on BJP, INC, Janta Dal, RJD, CPI and LJP.

The court directed the Election Commission of India to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents, so that at one stroke, each voter gets such information on his/her mobile phone.

The court said parties should publish information on criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites, making it easier for the voter to get to the information.

It will also be necessary to have on the homepage a caption stating “candidates with criminal antecedents” and this should be published 48 hours after selection of candidates.