Politics has reached a stage where the lawmakers become the lawbreaker. In a democratic country like India the increasing nexus between criminals and politicians threatens the survival of the democracy.
Increasing percentage of members of parliament who have a criminal background.
Nearly 50% of MP in the Lok Sabha have criminal record. Out of 400o sitting MLA 1777 or 44% have a criminal record.
If dig deeper and look at serious criminal cases which on conviction lead to jail sentence of 5 years or more there are 1136 or 28% of such MLAs. There are 47 MLAs with murder cases 181 with attempt to murder.
Constitutional provisions on disqualification of a criminal conduct:
Law commission in its 179th report recommended an amendment to the Representation of People Act 1951. It suggests that people with criminal background should be disqualified for five years or until the acquittal.
It also recommended that the person who wants to contest the election must furnish detail regarding any pending case.
Representation of people Act 1951 mentions criteria to disqualify a person to contest the election. Section 8 of the Act says that a person punished with a jail term of more than two years can not contest the elections for 6 years after the jail term has ended.
The law does not bar any person who has criminal cases pending against him. Therefore, the disqualification of a candidate with criminal background depend upon their conviction.
Its implication on country’s politics:
Negative impacts: 1. Increased corruption as criminals are often motivated by personal gains.
- violence, criminals may use violence to silence their opponents
- weakening of democracy, it will undermine the public trust in democracy.
Damage to the country’s reputation, this can make it more difficult to attract foreign investment.
Role of citizens:
increasing the citizen’s partnership is an important step in addressing the issue of criminals in politics. Citizens can raise awareness of the issue, monitor political candidates, hold politicians accountable and reform the political system to make more difficult for the criminals to get elected. For example, in India association of democratic reforms (ADR) has been working to raise awareness on the issue of criminals in politics. The ADR has published a number of reports on this issue and it has organised protests against politicians with criminal records.
In Brazil, the transparency international Brazil has been working to monitor political candidates and it also publishes a report on the issue of corruption in politics.