The Supreme Court in its judgment in WP (Civil) No. 536 of 2011 (Public Interest Foundation & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Anr.), dated September 25th 2018, has given directions regarding publication of criminal antecedents of contesting candidates by candidates and political parties. ADR report said.
Additionally, the Election Commission of India (ECI) in a letter dated 10 October 2018 to all Chief Electoral Officers (CEOs), laid down instructions for the fulfillment of the above directions. It stated that such declaration is to be published in the prescribed format at least on three different dates from the day following the last date for withdrawal of candidatures and upto two days before the date of poll. Accordingly, for Phase I of Lok Sabha Elections 2019, such period was 29th March to 9th April, 2019.
According to our report on ‘Lok Sabha Elections 2019 Phase I – Analysis of Criminal Background, Financial, Education, Gender and other details of Candidates’, which can be accessed here, details of all National Parties with number of candidates with self-declared criminal cases are as follows:
Party-wise candidates with self-declared criminal cases – Lok Sabha Phase I.
Party – candidates analyzed – criminal cases – % criminal, serious criminal ca., % of serious criminal cases
INC – 83 – 35 – 42% – 22 – 27%
BJP – 83 – 30 – 36% – 16 – 19%
BSP – 32 – 8 – 25% – 4 – 13%
CPI – 8 – 2 – 25% – 1 – 13%
CPI(M) – 8 – 4 – 50% – 3 – 38%
NCP – 6 – 2 – 33% – 2 – 33%
AITC – 5 – 0 – 0 – 0 – 0
Although all parties are required to publish the criminal antecedents of candidates fielded by them as per the aforementioned directions, the following observation is made after checking the official and state websites of only the 7 National Political Parties.
As of 9th April evening, only the Telangana state website of BJP had listed the criminal antecedents of 8 candidates out of a total of 30 with criminal cases fielded by BJP for Phase I. For other National Parties including INC, BSP, CPI, CPI(M) & NCP that have set up candidates with self-declared criminal cases for Phase I, no such information was available on their official websites till that time.
This suggests outright non-compliance with the SC order and the ECI directions by candidates as well as the political parties in the first phase of Lok Sabha Elections 2019. In view of this, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has written a letter (attached) dated 9th April, 2019 to the Election Commission of India, requesting them to take necessary action and to pursue this matter actively in the subsequent phases of General Elections 2019.