Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani issued the direction after taking note of media reports of “persons with criminal background becoming policy makers in many parts of the country.” They said such practice “has to be prevented and the system has to be cleansed.”

NEWS STATES TAMIL NADU
TAMIL NADU
Why not enact a law to bar criminals in elections, asks Madras HC
Mohamed Imranullah S.
CHENNAI 16 AUGUST 2020 01:55 IST
UPDATED: 16 AUGUST 2020 00:46 IST
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Stressing need to cleanse the system, court asked Centre to respond in 2 weeks
The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to explain in two weeks as to why it should not enact a law prohibiting people with criminal background from contesting in parliamentary, Assembly and local body elections.

Justices N. Kirubakaran and V.M. Velumani issued the direction after taking note of media reports of “persons with criminal background becoming policy makers in many parts of the country.” They said such practice “has to be prevented and the system has to be cleansed.”

Passing an interim order on a habeas corpus petition (HCP), the judges said: “This is possible only if the top leaders of our political parties are firm in not admitting criminals in their parties. The leaders should have a vision for decriminalisation of politics.”

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The Bench pointed out that an analysis of the 2019 Lok Sabha election winners by Association for Democratic Reforms, a non-governmental organisation, revealed that 43% (233 out of 539 Members of Parliament) had declared criminal cases pending against them.

Further, 29% (159 MPs) of the legislators were facing serious criminal cases.

“Therefore, the Central Government has to come out with a comprehensive legislation to prohibit persons with criminal background from contesting elections,” the Bench said.

Authoring the order, Justice Kirubakaran observed: “Indian democracy should not be tainted by criminals. It is seen that some of the criminal elements are also floating political parties on their own with the support of their religion or communities and the same is required to be prohibited.”

The observations were made while dealing with the HCP to quash a preventive detention order passed against Jana alias A. Janarthanan, who is facing as many as 19 criminal cases including charges of murder, attempt to murder, and dacoity in Puducherry.

Though the cases were pending as early as in 2009, investigation had not been completed in most of the cases. “This would speak about his clout with political parties especially ruling parties and police. But for political interference, police would have filed charge sheets,” the court said.

It expressed dismay over media reports of criminal elements in Puducherry having close connection and support of political parties and some of the Ministers and legislators being provided security by rowdy gangs. Use of country bombs had become very common in the union territory, it said.

“Many murders are committed cruelly by throwing country made bombs. In three cases, registered against the present detenu, he and other accused had used country made bombs. In 2018, former Speaker of Puducherry Sivakumar was murdered by a gang in same fashion,” the Bench added.

After impleading the Director General of Police as one of the respondents to the HCP suo motu, the judges directed him to submit in two weeks, the details of rowdy gangs active in Puducherry. The judges also wanted to know similar countrywide data from the Centre.

The other directions issued to the DGP included submission of details regarding number of persons with criminal background accommodated as top office bearers and district secretaries of various political parties and the nature of cases booked against them.

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