Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora on 13 February, 2020


Supreme Court of India

Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora on 13 February, 2020

Author: Rohinton Fali Nariman

Bench: Rohinton Fali Nariman, S. Ravindra Bhat, V. Ramasubramanian

                                                                       REPORTABLE
                                 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                                     INHERENT JURISDICTION
                                CONTEMPT PET. (C) NO. 2192 OF 2018
                                                IN
                                      W.P. (C) No. 536 OF 2011

                      RAMBABU SINGH THAKUR                    …Petitioner

                                             Versus


                      SUNIL ARORA & ORS.                      …Respondents

                                            WITH
                                CONTEMPT PET. (C) NO. 428 OF 2019
                                             IN
                                     W.P(C) NO. 536 OF 2011
                                             &
                                CONTEMPT PET. (C) NO. 464 OF 2019
                                             IN
                                     W.P(C) NO. 536 OF 2011



                                           JUDGMENT

R.F. Nariman, J.

1. This contempt petition raises grave issues regarding the criminalisation of

politics in India and brings to our attention a disregard of the directions of

a Constitution Bench of this Court in Public Interest Foundation and Ors.
Signature Not Verified

v. Union of India and Anr. (2019) 3 SCC 224.
Digitally signed by
SUSHMA KUMARI
BAJAJ
Date: 2020.02.13
16:45:38 IST
Reason:

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2. In this judgment, this Court was cognisant of the increasing criminalisation

of politics in India and the lack of information about such criminalisation

amongst the citizenry. In order to remedy this information gap, this Court

issued the following directions:

“116. Keeping the aforesaid in view, we think it appropriate to
issue the following directions which are in accord with the
decisions of this Court:

116.1. Each contesting candidate shall fill up the form as
provided by the Election Commission and the form must contain
all the particulars as required therein.

116.2. It shall state, in bold letters, with regard to the criminal
cases pending against the candidate.

116.3. If a candidate is contesting an election on the ticket of a
particular party, he/she is required to inform the party about the
criminal cases pending against him/her.

116.4. The political party concerned shall be obligated to put up
on its website the aforesaid information pertaining to candidates
having criminal antecedents.

116.5. The candidate as well as the political party concerned
shall issue a declaration in the widely circulated newspapers in
the locality about the antecedents of the candidate and also give
wide publicity in the electronic media. When we say wide
publicity, we mean that the same shall be done at least thrice
after filing of the nomination papers.”

3. On a perusal of the documents placed on record and after submissions of

counsel, it appears that over the last four general elections, there has

been an alarming increase in the incidence of criminals in politics. In 2004,

24% of the Members of Parliament had criminal cases pending against

them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019 as many

as 43% of MPs had criminal cases pending against them.

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4. We have also noted that the political parties offer no explanation as to why

candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as candidates in the

first place. We therefore issue the following directions in exercise of our

constitutional powers under Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution of

India:

1) It shall be mandatory for political parties [at the Central and
State election level] to upload on their website detailed
information regarding individuals with pending criminal
cases (including the nature of the offences, and relevant
particulars such as whether charges have been framed,
the concerned Court, the case number etc.) who have
been selected as candidates, along with the reasons for
such selection, as also as to why other individuals without
criminal antecedents could not be selected as candidates.

2) The reasons as to selection shall be with reference to the
qualifications, achievements and merit of the candidate
concerned, and not mere “winnability” at the polls.

3) This information shall also be published in:

(a) One local vernacular newspaper and one national
newspaper;

(b) On the official social media platforms of the political
party, including Facebook & Twitter.

4) These details shall be published within 48 hours of the
selection of the candidate or not less than two weeks

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before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is
earlier.

5) The political party concerned shall then submit a report of
compliance with these directions with the Election
Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said
candidate.

6) If a political party fails to submit such compliance report
with the Election Commission, the Election Commission
shall bring such non-compliance by the political party
concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in
contempt of this Court’s orders/directions.

5. With these directions, these Contempt Petitions are accordingly disposed

of.

..……………………J.

(R.F. Nariman)

..……………………J.

(S. Ravindra Bhat)
New Delhi;

February 13, 2020.

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