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Candidates with Criminal Cases had Higher Success Rate in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections : Amicus Curiae informs SC

Candidates with Criminal Cases had Higher Success Rate in 2019 Lok Sabha Elections : Amicus Curiae informs SC

The amicus curiae's report submitted to the Supreme Court, as part of a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) urging prompt resolution of criminal cases involving Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs), highlighted a concerning trend. It indicated that candidates with criminal cases had a higher rate of electoral success during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Senior Advocate Vijay Hansaria, serving as the amicus in the case, presented statistics revealing that candidates with criminal records secured a greater number of seats compared to those without such backgrounds in the 17th Lok Sabha (2019-2024).

“In 2019 Lok Sabha elections, out of 7928 candidates, 1500 candidates (19%) had criminal cases, out of which 1070 candidates (13%) were serious criminal cases. However, out of 514 elected members of 17th Lok Sabha (2019-2024), 225 members (44%) had criminal cases against them. Thus, candidates with criminal cases have won more seats than candidates without criminal cases.”

In essence, the report highlights that although only about 19% of the candidates had criminal cases, they ended up occupying approximately 44% of the seats in the Lok Sabha. Conversely, despite 81% of the candidates having no criminal cases against them, only 56% of the final tally of MPs were without any criminal background. This indicates that candidates with criminal backgrounds had a significantly higher success rate compared to those without such antecedents.

According to the report, approximately 15% of candidates (225 out of 1500) with criminal cases emerged victorious, while only about 4.5% of candidates (289 out of 6489) without criminal backgrounds secured wins.

The amicus based their analysis on a study conducted by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) for the statistics provided in the report.

According to the findings of an 88-page report, a significant number of cases are pending against lawmakers. In response, the senior advocate has emphasized the importance of High Courts requesting reports from the presiding officers of Special Courts for MPs/MLAs regarding pending cases that have been unresolved for three or more years. These reports should include explanations for the prolonged pendency as well as details from the order sheets.

Hansaria clarified that only a copy of the order sheet would be necessary, without requiring the entire case file. He added that the High Court could then proceed to pass suitable orders after closely examining each case. The direction given would be to ensure that trials are completed within one year, offering a positive step towards expediting the legal process.

Previously, the Supreme Court noted the challenge of establishing uniform guidelines applicable nationwide and entrusted the responsibility to the High Courts to develop measures for effectively monitoring the trial of criminal cases involving MPs/MLAs. This delegation of responsibility falls within the ambit of the High Courts' authority under Article 227 of the Indian Constitution.

In his report, Hansaria has not only compiled the aforementioned data but has also emphasized the urgent need for High Courts to promptly adjudicate these pending cases. In light of this urgency, he has requested directions from the Supreme Court to address this matter effectively.

The report elaborates that following the directions issued by the Supreme Court, over 2000 cases were resolved in 2023. However, despite this progress, a significant number of cases still remain pending.

“It may be noted that in view of the direction issued by this Hon'ble Court in the present proceedings, the steps taken by the respective High Courts, and expeditious hearing by the Special Court MP/MLA, more than 2000 cases have been decided in the year 2023. However, a large number of cases are pending, and many of them are for a long period.,” the report asserted.

In his report, Hansaria has put forward the idea of establishing a model website similar to the National Judicial Data Grid. This website would allow citizens to track the progress of trials involving their lawmakers in real-time by providing accessible information. The report also pointed out the current lack of easy access to such details on the High Court's website, which hampers citizens' ability to obtain information about pending cases.

The report further supported this suggestion by highlighting that orders from MP/MLA Courts are not uploaded on any other websites. Considering that the right to information is an essential aspect of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution, citizens indeed have the right to be informed about the status of trials involving their lawmakers.

The amicus cited various landmark precedents, including the recent case of Anoop Baranwal v. Union of India [Election Commission Appointments] (2023) 6 SCC 161, to bolster this argument.

The report highlights the urgent necessity for proactive measures to tackle the issue of pending criminal cases against lawmakers. Its significance is heightened by the ongoing phase two of the General Elections for the 18th Lok Sabha.

Case Title: Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay v. UOI

W.P.(C) No. 699/2016

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