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CRIMINALISATION OF politics and persons known to have a criminal past becoming legislators and

ministers has not only become common but is being openly defended by leaders of political parties. A stage
has now been reached when politicians openly boast of their criminal connections.

A statement made in the assembly by a minister of a north Indian state that he patronised and would
continue to patronise gangsters to fight and win elections is an indication of the growing phenomenon where
criminal background has become a prerequisite to win elections. Despite the countrywide debate generated
by the Vohra Committee Report on criminalisation of politics, the system has changed only for the worse.
Earlier in the 1960’s, the criminal was content helping (covertly) the politician win the election so he could
in turn get protection from him. The roles have now been reversed. It is now the politician, who seeks
protection from criminals. The latter seek direct access to power and hence become legislators or ministers.

The Election Commission’s observation that nearly 40 members of the 11th Lok Sabha and 700 members of
the state assemblies had a criminal past proves this. The Election Commission’s requirement that the
prospective candidates file an affidavit listing the criminal charges they face has hardly made any dent in the
growing criminalisation of politics. Some radical reforms in the existing law need to be undertaken urgently.
Until this is done, political parties could take some initiative to curb this trend, by denying tickets to
politicians with a criminal background. Far from it, party leaders invariably issue tickets to those with a
criminal past because they can not only win elections, but also help other candidates win. The Election
Commission is powerless in preventing criminals from contesting elections. The Representation of People
Act allows it to debar candidates convicted of certain crimes, but cannot prevent those under trial or whose
appeals from their earlier convictions are pending for disposal before the higher court for multiple murders
or rape or corruption or theft from the public exchequer from representing the people in the country’s
highest legislative forums. There have been a number of cases where persons under trial have contested
elections, while in jail and won. Unfortunately, no political party has taken any concrete step to curb this
malpractice.

It is not difficult to see why political parties put up criminals as candidates. Given a situation in which the
sanctity of elections is being increasingly undermined by rigging and booth-capturing, a criminal with
muscle power has greater chances of winning than a clean and decent individual without such ‘capabilities’.
And most often criminals do win, which is why they are increasingly present in the country’s representative
institutions. The consequences of the trend, if allowed to continue unchecked, hardly deserve an elaboration
and are seen in the increasing criminalisation of the process of governance with ministers, legislators,
bureaucrats and unscrupulous businessmen combining to plunder public funds and prey on the public.

In fact a new dimension has been added to the process by the criminalisation of bureaucracy and the police.
What makes the situation particularly dangerous is that a criminalised administration poses a serious threat
to the country’s security even as Pakistan-sponsored cross-border terrorism continues unabated. This is
clearly reflected in the fact that agents of the Inter Service Intelligence [ISI] have no difficulty in getting
passports and driving licenses and carrying out their deadly assignments in India. De-criminalisation of
politics should be the main issue in all elections in the country. While political parties have a serious
responsibility not to put up criminals as candidates, voters have an equally strong responsibility of defeating
candidates with a criminal record.

Lately, the Election Commission of India has taken noticeable measures to check criminalisation of politics.
It has already banned convicted people from contesting elections to the state legislature or parliament, at the
same time; it has asked all criminally-charged persons to disclose all the charges they face, in the
nomination paper. This information will be easily made available to the public. Cases pending against
politicians should be settled as quickly as possible. It is found that cases against them remain pending for
long and they keep winning elections while the cases remain pending. Later, with their ministerial power,
they manipulate the cases in their favour. Withdrawal of criminal charges against some tainted ministers of
the present government is a case in point.

Criminalisation of Politics in Bihar


Former Bihar DGP D. P. Ojha is contesting the Lok Sabha elections from the Begusarai constituency in
Bihar in the 14th Lok Sabha Electionson the "Clean Up Bihar" platform.

This is how the Police officer ended up contesting the elections.

Ojha had gallantly fought against the corrupt elements in the state administration of Bihar and achieved a
measure of stardom when he succeeded in arresting the notorious Siwan RJD MP Mohammed Shahabuddin
last year. It was on July 30 that Ojha first told the media that the police were going to pursue criminal cases
pending against the notorious RJD MP

With Ojha's growing voice against the status quo, the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leaders had formed a
coalition, for obvious reasons, demanding immediate removal of the DGP accusing him of violating the
police code of conduct. The news did not come as surprise to most political watchers who had expected this
for last several weeks particularly when Ojha called the Bihar rulers as a bunch of "lafanges" (hoodlums).

He was fired from his post by the Rabri government in December last year on 5th December. He had won
widespread acclaim for his brutal honesty in his criticism against the leaders and ministers of Bihar.

He was replaced by an alleged Shahabuddin sympathizer W. H. Khan, the DGP of state Military Police.

The sacked DGP came into limelight after submitting a 100-page report on Siwan Mohammad Shahabuddin
revealing his links with Pakistan's ISI and other international criminal gangsOjha was then offered the
charge of Director General Civil Defence but he categorically rejected the generosity and said he would
rather seek voluntary retirement from the service.

His hope to secure a nomination from the NDA to contest the coming Lok Sabha election was shattered with
none of the parties accepting his candidatureand he will now contest as an independent candidate from
Begusarai Lok Sabha constituency in north Bihar.Ojha says that whoever decides to support him or not,
there would be no retreating from the mission started by him to expose the prevailing politician- mafia
nexus in the state which threatens to sweep away the very objective of the country's democratic set up.

He claimed that he enjoyed full confidence of the people, "Contesting the election is a part of my larger
battle against the prevailing politician-criminal-bureaucrat nexus. It is just a matter of transmitting the
confidence of people into votes." He said his campaign against criminal-politicians nexus would continue
even if the lost the election.
Criminalisation of politics a threat to democracy'

SHIMLA: Identifying growing role of money power in the elections as 'a big menace' of Indian democracy,
former Chief Election Commissioner BB Tandon has suggested a suitable legislation based on the political
consensus against it.

The Election Commission has made various recommendations regarding partial state funding of polls which
should be given a serious thought, Tandon said.

He said steps should also be taken to ensure transparency in the funds of political parties.

Tandon pointed out that criminalisation of the political system is threatening the very roots of democracy.

The election commission had recommended that the candidate should not be allowed to contest election if
charges are framed against such person by the court.

"But these recommendations were not accepted by the standing committee of the parliament," Tandon said.

The political parties should take a pragmatic view on this issue and come out with a suitable measure, the
former CEC added.

He also suggested political parties also evolve a code of ethics among themselves and not give ticket to such
criminal elements.

Tandon said, "It is only the will-power of the political parties which could help Indian democracy get rid of
this menace."

The former CEC said before demitting office he had suggested to the President of India that appointment to
the high offices of CEC and EC should be made by the President based on the recommendations of a high-
level committee under the chairmanship of Prime Minister which should also have leader of the opposition
of both houses of Parliament.

Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Vice Chairman of the Rajya Sabha should also be made members of this
committee along with the Home Minister, he said.

This should be broadly on the pattern which is prescribed under the law for appointment of Chief
Information Commissioner and other Information Commissioner under the Rights to Information Act.

Tandon congratulated the EC for conducting the recent election in Uttar Pradesh in a free, fearless and fair
manner.

"This was a big challenge for the CEC N Gopalaswami and he successfully faced this challenge. It is for the
first time in up not a single election related death or violence occurred," Tandon, a Himachal Pradesh cadre
IAS officer, said.
Criminalization of Politics
After 60 years of India’s independence the lives of commoners is far worse than under Britishers. The
benefits of independence have reached only few, thus creating islands of few ultra rich people surrounded
by vast sea of utterly poor. The rich people in nexus with those in power are getting favourable laws enacted
to suit their ends. Those in power are shamelessly enjoying 5-star luxuries all at tax payer’s expense, while
more then 50 million are starving to death. The criminalization of politics, executive & judiciary is almost
complete. The corruption has spread its tentacles far & wide, there is corruption from womb to tomb, from
maternity hospital to grave yard. The injustices mated out, the atrocities perpetrated by public servants are
worse than Britishers. The biggest confounding factor in the political environment of business is
criminalization of politics: people with criminal backgrounds becoming politicians and elected
representatives. Around 20% of the members of the current Lok Sabha have criminal cases pending against
them. The charges in several of these cases are of heinous crimes such as murder, robbery, kidnapping, and
not just violation of Section 144, or something similar.

It is well known that all parties take the help of criminal elements to dominate the election scene in India.
But this process is influencing the mind and the will of the people both to gain the majority to rule the
country according to their will. The system of democracy is now changing into the dictatorship of some.
Because the democracy of India are now in hands of the criminal who are not capable any way to hold the
post if legislature.

Components:-
(1) Muscle Power:-
The influence of muscle power in Indian politics has been a fact of life for a long time. As early as in 1977,
the National Police Commission headed by Dharam Vira observed: ``The manner in which different
political parties have functioned, particularly on the eve of periodic election, involves the free use of
musclemen and ‘Dadas’ to influence the attitude and conduct of sizable sections of the electorate. The
Panchayat elections, like other elections in the recent past, have demonstrated once again that there can be
no sanity in India as long as politics continues to be based on caste and

Gangsterism.
The politicians are thriving today on the basis of muscle power provided by criminals. The common people
who constitute the voters are in most cases too reluctant to take measures that would curtail the criminal
activities. Once the political aspect joins the criminal elements the nexus becomes extremely dangerous.
Many of politicians chose muscle power to gain vote bank in the country, and they apply the assumption
that, if we are unable to bring faith in the community then we can generate fear or threat to get the power in
the form of election.

(2) Money Power:-


The elections to Parliament and State Legislatures are very expensive and it is a widely accepted fact that
huge election expenditure is the root cause for corruption in India. A candidate has to spend lakhs of rupees
to get elected and even if he gets elected, the total salary he gets during his tenure as an MP/MLA will be
meagre compared to his election expenses. How can he bridge the gap between the income and expenses?
Publicly through donations and secretly through illegal means. The expenditure estimation for an election
estimated as Rs 5 per voter as election expenditure, for 600 million voters, and calculation of all the
expenses in a general elaction estimated around Rs 2,000 crore. Then there is the period between elections.
This requires around Rs 250 crore. Then there are state elections and local elections. All told, the system has
to generate around Rs 5,000 crore in a five year cycle or Rs 1,000 crore on average each year. Where is this
money to come from? Only criminal activity can generate such large sums of untaxed funds. That is why
you have criminals in politics. They have money and muscle, so they win and help others in their party win
as well.

Reasons Of This Criminalization:-


(1) Vote Bank:-
The political parties and independent candidates have astronomical expenditure for vote buying and other
illegitimate purposes through these criminals or so called goondas. A politician’s link with them
constituency provides a congenial climate to political crime. Those who do not know why they ought to vote
comprise the majority of voters of this country. Therefore majority of the voters are manoeuvrable,
purchasable. Most of them are individually timid and collectively coward. To gain their support is easier for
the unscrupulous than the conscientious.

We have long witnessed criminals being wooed by political parties and given cabinet posts because their
muscle and money power fetches crucial votes. Elections are won and lost on swings of just 1% of the vote,
so parties cynically woo every possible vote bank, including those headed by accused robbers and
murderers. Legal delays ensure that the accused will die of old age before being convicted, so parties
virtuously insist that these chaps must be regarded as innocent till proved guilty.

(2) Corruption:-
In every election all parties without exception put up candidates with a criminal background. Even though
some of us whine about the decision taken by the parties, the general trend is that these candidates are
elected to office. By acting in such a manner we fail to realize that the greatest power that democracy arms
the people is to vote incompetent people out of power.

Independence has taken place through a two-stage process. The first stage was the corrupting of the
institutions and the second stage was the institutionalization of corruption. As we look at the corruption
scene today, we find that we have reached this stage because the corrupting of the institutions in turn has
finally led to the institutionalization of corruption. The failure to deal with corruption has bred contempt for
the law. When there is contempt for the law and this is combined with the criminalization of politics,
corruption flourishes. India is ranked 66 out of 85 in the Corruption Perception Index 1998 by the German
non-government organization Transparency International based in Berlin. This means that 65 countries were
perceived to be less corrupt than India and 19 were perceived to be more corrupt.

(3) Loop Holes In The Functioning Of Election Commission:-


The Election Commission must take adequate measures to break the nexus between the criminals and the
politicians. The forms prescribed by the Election Commission for candidates disclosing their convictions,
cases pending in courts and so on in their nomination papers is a step in the right direction if it applied
properly. Too much should not be expected, however, from these disclosures. They would only inform
people of the candidate’s history and qualifications, but not prohibit them from casting their votes,
regardless, in favour of a criminal.

For the past several general elections there has existed a gulf between the Election Commission and the
voter. Common people hardly come to know the rules made by the commission. Bridging this gap is
essential not only for rooting out undesirable elements from politics but also for the survival of our
democratic polity. This is an incremental process, the rate of success of which is directly proportional to the
increase in literacy rate in India. The electorate have made certain wrong choices in the past, but in the
future national interest should guide them in making intelligent choices.
(4) Denial Of Justice And Rule Of Law: -
Criminalization is a fact of Indian electoral politics today. The voters, political parties and the law and order
machinery of the state are all equally responsible for this. There is very little faith in India in the efficacy of
the democratic process in actually delivering good governance. This extends to accepting criminalization of
politics as a fact of life. Toothless laws against convicted criminals standing for elections further encourage
this process. Under current law, only people who have been convicted at least on two counts be debarred
from becoming candidates. This leaves the field open for charge sheeted criminals, many of whom are
habitual offenders or history-sheeters. It is mystifying indeed why a person should be convicted on two
counts to be disqualified from fighting elections. The real problem lies in the definitions. Thus, unless a
person has been convicted, he is not a criminal. Mere charge-sheets and pending cases do not suffice as bars
to being nominated to fight an election. So the law has to be changed accordingly.

Legal Threads:-
(1) Vohra Committee:-
12 bombs blasts that shook Bombay on 13 march 1993, had involved the collaboration of a diffuse network
of criminal gangs, police and customs officials as well as their political

Patrons, a commission were institutes to investigate the so-called nexus. The report by N.N.Vohra found
such deep involvement of politicians with organised crime all over India that it was barred from publication.
Here Vohra observes "the various crime syndicate/mafia organisations have developed significant muscle
and money power and established linkage with governmental functionaries, political leaders and other to be
able to operate with impunity. As highlighted by the Vohra Committee Our elections involve a lot of black
money and it is this use of black money in elections which has also brought about the criminalization of
politics. After all, the story of the Hawala scam started by the police stumbling to the Jain diaries in their
effort to trace the money received by the Kashmir militants. The scam brought out the linkage between the
corrupt businessmen, politicians, bureaucracy and the criminals. The 1993 Bombay blasts which took away
the life of 300 people was made possible because RDX could be smuggled by allegedly bribing a customs
official with Rs.20 lakhs. Some 15 years ago Vohra committee submitted its report to curb criminalization
of politics but the fact is that no application in this way is being made. This was mentioned in the petition
submitted by the Speaker of Lok Sabha and President of India on 16th may that- “The subject of
criminalisation of politics is one that concerns the entire nation closely. It is deeply disturbing that on the
one hand, our polity is tolerant of ‘fake encounters’ (summary executions) of alleged criminals and
terrorists, while our highest representative body – Indian Parliament – harbours people caught red-handed in
acts of human trafficking, and convicted on charges of abduction and suspected murder.”

(2) Supreme Court’s Judgement:-


The Supreme Court judgment of May 2, 2002 mandated that candidates disclose their criminal antecedents,
if any, as also their financial and educational background. The Election Commission had proposed
amendment of statutory rules and the format of nomination papers, to give effect to this judgment of the
Supreme Court. The Apex Court judgement to check corruption among public servant is a welcome step. No
law should provide protective shield to the corrupt public official and the court has rightly held that no prior
sanction of competent authority would be required to prosecute them. With this order, 93 MPs and 10
ministers in Manmohan Singh's ministry are under the scanner on various criminal charges. This is
appalling. It is ironical that the executive and legislatures who make and implement policies and guidelines
for the development are themselves acting as stumbling block in the development of the nation. The role of
Supreme Court becomes very important here. The Apex Court as custodian of constitution should take all
necessary steps to strengthen democracy in the country. The legislature and executive have been
complaining about the Supreme Court’s intervention on their domain, but it becomes imperative in such
kind of unwanted situation. The Supreme Court of India upheld a PIL which made it mandatory for
everyone seeking public office to disclose their criminal, financial and educational history. It was a way to
ensure that the voters knew the important details about their “honourable” leaders, and steamed them were
indeed.

Some of the parties would be able to draw advantage from the Supreme Court order because they have had
less opportunity to indulge in crime and corruption. They would have a greater chance of watching
candidates of other parties squirm and suffer in agony. Some others might be happy because they already
have efficient watchdog systems and batteries of lawyers in place that would permit them to file counter-
affidavits and challenge nominations of opposing candidates within hours of their being filed.

(3) Right To Information Act And Criminalization Of Politics:-


The Court held that the right to information - the right to know antecedents, including the criminal past, or
assets of candidates - was a fundamental right under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution and that the
information was fundamental for survival of democracy. In its Judgement of May 2, 2002, it directed the
Election Commission to call for information on affidavit from each candidate seeking election to Parliament
or the State Legislature as a necessary part of the nomination papers on: Whether the candidate has been
convicted / acquitted / discharged of any criminal offence in the past - if any, whether the candidate was
accused in any pending case of any offence punishable with imprisonment for two years or more, and in
which charge was framed or cognisance taken by the court of law. If so, requires the details thereof; the
assets (immovable, movable, bank balance, etc.) of a candidate and of his/her spouse and that of the
dependents; liabilities, if any, particularly of any overdue of any public financial institution or Government
dues; educational qualifications of the candidate. The Right to Information Act 2005 is a historical Act that
makes Government officials liable for punishment if they fail to respond to people within a stipulated
timeframe. Many public servants are leading luxurious lifestyles, beyond the legal sources of their income.
Many public servants are filing false affidavits about their annual income, wealth details to Election
Commission of India / Vigilance Commission / other authorities, as the case may be. These authorities are
not properly verifying these affidavits. Many scams, scandals are coming to light day in & day out,
politicians are accusing each other of involvement in scams. Whereas, the said authorities are keeping mum,
as if those affidavits filed by tainted public servants are true. The tainted public servants are not even
providing full, right information to public as per RTI Act, lest the truth come out.

This seen is very normal now a day that some public servants, caught red-handed during luxurious spending,
they easily say that it is at their political party’s expense or their well wisher’s expense. However no entries
are found in the account books of said parties to that respect. The law forbids public servants from accepting
gifts, hospitality, favours beyond the value of rupees one hundred (Rs. 100 ) , as it may be a form of bribe.
But one may ask all these under RTI. Right to Know is an inherent attribute of every person. Right to know
differs only in one sense with right to information. Right to know is a natural right and right to information
is a provision given by government to its people. Natural rights do not have any value legally until they are
legally considered. Hence right to know as such implied in the freedom of speech and expression which is a
legally considered right must have to be given a special value. Right to information as such will bring
transparency of the government activities and allow the people to find remedies for those things by which
they suffered.