India’s Supreme Court ordered political parties on Thursday to publish the names of any candidates who have criminal records, along with the reasoning for why they were chosen.
The court is aiming to fix the increasing criminalization of politics in India and the lack of information about such criminalization among the people. In order to do so, the court issued directions for political party candidates to inform their respective party of any criminal cases pending against them.
The political parties are then required to place this information on their websites and to issue a declaration in newspapers and electronic media about the antecedents of the candidate. These details must be published within 48 hours of the candidate’s selection, or two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations, whichever is earlier. The political party must then submit a report with the Election Commission within three days.
In ordering this, the court noted that there had been a drastic increase in the amount of criminals involved in politics. In 2004, 24 percent of India’s Parliament had criminal cases pending against them. In 2019, as many as 43 percent had criminal cases pending against them. Political parties often said nothing about why candidates with criminal backgrounds were selected as candidates in the first place.
Any political party failing to comply will be considered in contempt of the court’s orders.