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
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.
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
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
(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
before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is
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
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
(S. Ravindra Bhat)
February 13, 2020.