Bihar polls show how political parties pay no heed to SC orders, promotes candidates with criminal backgrounds
The ongoing campaigning war in Bihar ahead of the elections showed how most of the political parties ignored Supreme Court’s orders pertaining to electoral reforms. In February, 2020 the country’s apex court gave directions to political parties to discourage giving tickets to candidates with criminal case filed against them. Besides SC made it mandatory for the political parties to mention reasons for selecting candidates with criminal background over other individuals (ones without any criminal case).
On Sunday, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) disclosed how some parties were not giving out details of their candidates’ backgrounds despite SC orders. It mentioned that out of all the political parties contesting Bihar assembly polls, only JDU, RJD, Congress and CPI(M-L) followed the guidelines issued by Supreme Court. The polls reform body did not mention BJP but emphasised that the ruling national party violated directions of the Apex Court.
ADR in its statement said “most of the reasons given by political parties,” for giving tickets to people with criminal cases pending against them, “are not rational and justified as clearly directed by the Supreme Court in its order dated 13th February 2020.”
Political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakersJagdeep Chhokar
ADR chief Major General Anil Verma (Retd.), said, “In phase 1 and 2 of the Assembly elections, political parties fielded 33 per cent of candidates with declared criminal cases against themselves. This shows a complete disregard of the SC and ECI directions by the political parties. Such unfounded and baseless reasons given by political parties like ‘popularity’ of the person, ‘does good social work,’ ‘cases are politically motivated’ etc are not sound and cogent reasons for fielding candidates with tainted backgrounds.”
According to the data complied by ADR, RJD has the maximum number of candidates with criminal background i.e. 30 out of 41 candidates (73%) and 22 of them (54%) declared serious criminal cases against themselves in their affidavits. BJP was second in line with 72 per cent candidates with criminal background followed by LJP (59%), Congress (57%), JD (U) (43%) and BSP (31%).
The founder of polls rights group ADR, Jagdeep Chhokar, said, “The directions of the Supreme Court have had no effect on the political parties in the selection of candidates as they have followed their old practice of giving tickets to around 31 per cent candidates with criminal cases. All major parties contesting in Bihar phase I elections have given tickets to 31 per cent to 70 per cent candidates who have declared criminal cases.”
The data complied by ADR showed that “political parties have no interest in reforming the electoral system and our democracy will continue to suffer at the hands of lawbreakers who become lawmakers,” Chhokar added. Besides the apex court verdict, the Election Commission also , gave orders on September 16, 2020, directing the political parties that “details regarding criminal cases are to be published on three occasions during the campaign period.” It added that the details have to be published in bold letters, in at least 12 point font size.