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Specify reasons for selecting candidate with pending criminal cases against them: SC tells political parties

In the recent Delhi Assembly election, 60 percent of the Aam Aadmi Party's candidates contesting were of criminal background 51 percent of whom were facing serious charges.

The Supreme court today has directed political parties to give reasons and justifications regarding their selection of a candidate with a criminal background.

The Bench headed by Justice R F Nariman and S Ravindra Bhat ruled that the political parties will have to provide reasons, credentials, achievements and criminal antecedents of candidates on their website, newspaper, and social media platforms justifying the selection of the candidate with criminal cases on them.

The BJP leader and Supreme court lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay has filed a plea against political parties selecting tainted politicians for contesting elections. He alleged that no serious efforts were made by the government as well as the election commission in the last six months to decriminalize the political party and the candidates chosen by it.

Stating that ‘winnability’ cannot be the only criteria for choosing a candidate, the apex court said that it cannot be the only justification for selecting a candidate. The bench said, “Political parties must put all the information in public domain about a candidate within 48 hours of clearing the name and party must also submit a report regarding publication within 24 hours of the nomination of candidate”.

“The parties will be liable for contempt if they fail to comply with this order”, the court ruled, and also directed the EC to file contempt in case of no-compliance.

In the recent Delhi Assembly election, 60 percent of the Aam Aadmi Party’s candidates contesting were of criminal background 51 percent of whom were facing serious charges according to a report of Association of Democratic Reforms. Bharatiya Janata Party’s 39% candidates have declared criminal cases against them, with 25% facing serious criminal cases. The Indian National Congress’s 27 percent declared criminal cases against them and 20 percent are facing serious charges.

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