Earlier last week, in one of the biggest and most awaited judgements, the Supreme Court of India ordered all political parties to upload details of criminal charges of candidates and MPs on the party’s websites and social media. The apex court also asked the parties as to why candidates with such records were chosen for elections and ordered that the information should be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles. It should mandatorily be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier, the SC said. A Bench led by Justices Rohinton F. Nariman, in the judgment, ordered political parties to submit compliance reports with the Election Commission of India within 72 hours or risk contempt of court action.
Considering that the number of MPs with criminal charges is on the rise, from 23 percent in 2004 to 43 percent in 2019, an alarming rate of almost 100 percent in the last 15 years, it is only right that the Supreme Court has come up with the order. And from the rise in the number of MPs with criminal records, the criminalisation of politics is real thereby putting the Indian democracy under threat. And can one really imagine the world’s largest democracy ruled by criminals? A hard pill to swallow but from the number of MPs with such cases, it is not far when India will be rule by criminals. Or has it already begun? Hence, in such times, the Supreme Court calling on the Parliament to “cure the malignancy” of criminalisation of politics by making a law to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena as the “polluted stream of politics” needs to be cleansed is a much welcome move. And the public, as voters, also have the vital role of helping in electing the right candidate, a representative that will form the government and rule over them.
Yes, while criminalisation is a threat to a democracy like India, the people also have the vital role of raising their voice on the selection of candidates and electing the right representatives. For it is not only for the Supreme Court of India to take action after the damage has been done but also for the voters to prevent before it happens. Doesn’t it say prevention is better than cure? Therefore, if the Supreme Court has taken a move, it is now time for the voters to follow suit and help realised that the orders of the apex court are followed and that India is free from criminals as MPs or representatives of the people. After all, isn’t Democracy a government of the people, for the people and by the people?