Banning corrupt politicians from electoral arena

The Election Commission has created a furore among political parties by recommending to the Supreme Court to debar corrupt politicians for life from contesting parliamentary or State assembly polls. The EC has suggested setting up of special courts for trying corrupt politicians. The apex court has reacted favourably to the suggestion and asked the Centre to set up designated courts for this purpose and set a deadline of one year for completing trial. The Centre, however, has not responded enthusiastically. Additional Solicitor-General Nadkarni has pointed out that no convicted lawmaker has ever entered a legislature after serving his sentence, implying that a law to debar them is not necessary.
It is not clear whether the ban to contest elections is intended to be  applied to politicians accused of corruption till their trial ends and they are either acquitted or convicted, or to politicians against whom corruption cases are pending in law courts. The proposed law should provide adequate safeguards against mala fide criminal cases instituted against a popular politician by a rival candidate in order to prevent his contesting in the polls and thereby improving his own electoral prospects. In today’s political atmosphere winning elections by any means has become the rule. During the campaign very often absurd charges are levelled. These are forgotten once the election is over. The recent allegation against a Congress leader of Gujarat that he has connections with the ISIS falls in this category.
Elections and the nature of election campaigning are conditioned by the prevailing political ethos. Antisocial elements are now freely hired by political parties to terrorize their opponents as also voters likely to vote against a particular candidate. While it is necessary to prevent tainted or corrupt politicians from entering the portals of legislatures, it is also necessary to ensure that honest people are not framed in corruption cases. There is another question, too. The proposed law is meant for candidates for State assembly or Parliamentary polls. But what about the polls in civic and panchayat bodies? The three-tier panchayat bodies now handle enormous amounts of money meant for rural development. Will corrupt politicians be allowed to contest elections to local bodies and panchayats with impunity? A uniform policy has to be adopted.

Friday, 3 November, 2017