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SC weighs action against parties for not revealing candidates’ criminal records

The legislative wing of the government will never address the issue of criminalisation of the country’s polity, the Supreme Court observed on Tuesday, while debating ways and means to enforce a court order asking political parties to reveal criminal and other details about their candidates in the run-up to elections.

These norms were allegedly violated by all parties during the recent Assembly polls in Bihar.

A contempt plea, filed by Brajesh Singh, claimed that parties defied the court orders by keeping their candidates’ criminal records to themselves, published it in less widely circulated newspapers and chose candidates late to circumvent the court orders.

A bench led by Justice Nariman debated at length the next step to get parties to obey these orders. Justice BR Gavai was the other judge on the bench.

Among the solutions proposed by lawyers of parties was one on not allowing the Election Commission to invoke its power to derecognise any party as it would reduce Indian democracy to a one party show.

Instead, they suggested issuing a public warning to parties or impose penalties to force them to change with the times.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the NCP, warned against the pitfalls of leaving enforcement to the EC in the prevailing political circumstances. The Congress was represented in court by advocate Nishant Patil.

Sibal argued that every party was a monolith in which the “right hand doesn’t know what the left hand does”.

“However, a hammer will be counter-productive in the EC hand,” Sibal said.

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