“No political party offers an explanation as to why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates” – Supreme Court
We take enormous pride in calling us the world's largest democracy but why not the greatest one is yet to be answered.
Representative Democracy is the most effective and widely adopted form of government because it empowers citizens to elect a leader who will govern them and work for their best interests. "Democracy is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people," stated Abraham Lincoln. In 1947, India gained independence and eventually adopted parliamentary democracy. India is one of the world's most diverse countries and has complex multiple societies. As a result, only the parliamentary model would be able to accommodate the many and various groups that make up our population. However, we failed to examine its faults. It is always of great importance that the person governing you himself is of high moral character and has a clear image. Unfortunately, we failed to make any such criteria for the elected candidates resulting in the criminalization of politics, a stigma on Indian democracy.
Criminals participating in politics and being elected to the legislature is referred to as criminalization of politics. According to current accounts, it has risen over time. At least 1,157 out of 6,318 candidates in the Assembly elections in Assam, Kerala, Puducherry, Tamil Nadu, and West Bengal face criminal charges. Currently, more than 43% of parliamentarians are claimed to be facing some sort of legal action in a variety of incidents. Since 2004, this number has steadily increased, rising from 24% in 2004 to 43% in 2019.
Indian Constitution doesn't bar a candidate contesting election even if there are multiple criminal cases against him. The disqualification of a candidate depends upon his conviction. Despite several efforts to amend the Representation of People's Act 1951, lack of political will has been a constant roadblock that is deterring parliament from taking any action. If rules and judgments have been passed due to poor implementation, they lose relevance. The Supreme Court might have ordered political parties to publish entire criminal records of candidates but if the majority of voters still vote for them due to their money and muscle power and public image, and also if other candidates are weak or have a criminal history as well then it is not of much help.
Every core democratic ideal is violated when politics is criminalized. It prevents people from voting for the best-suited candidate, which is antithetical to free and fair elections. We all know how badly a law-breaker making a law for the country can harm governance. When the disease spreads from the legislature to other organs, it leads to an increase in corruption and black money, causing public institutions to become inefficient.
However, there is reason to be hopeful, as the government has taken some constructive actions, which is a good omen. Electoral improvements recommended by numerous bodies, if adopted, can make a significant effect. Though governmental funding of elections would put a strain on the budget, it will aid in the reduction of criminality and the establishment of law and order. More work should be done to enhance the election commission so that it can appropriately control political parties during elections. Because politicians are hesitant, courts must adopt stringent measures to prevent candidates with serious criminal charges from running. The greatest significant shift will occur when voters themselves become vigilant against any unethical electoral activity.
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