●Criminal cases against Rajya Sabha Members
•According to an analysis by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), about 24% of the sitting Rajya Sabha members have declared criminal cases against themselves
•[Analysis of 229 of the 233 Rajya Sabha seats showed that 54 MPs had declared criminal cases.]
•It also found out from their self-sworn affidavits that 89% have declared assets estimated at over Rs. 1 crore.
•According to the finding of Association of Democratic Reforms, about 43% of members elected to 17th Lok Sabha are facing criminal charges in court of law, while 84% have self-declared assets worth more than Rs. 1 crore.
•Section 8 of the Ac the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections.
•Criminalization of politics is the involvement of the candidates with criminal charges in politics through the elections and even getting elected to the Parliament and state legislature. It takes place primarily because of the nexus between the criminals and the politicians.
•Lack of Political Will: Section 8 of the Ac the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act, 1951 disqualifies a person convicted with a sentence of two years or more from contesting elections. But those under trial continued to be eligible to contest elections.
•Therefore, in order to curb criminalisation of politics, Parliament needs to bring an amendment in the Act.
•Use of Muscle and Money Power: Candidates with serious criminal records seem to do well despite their bad public image, largely due to their ability to finance their own elections and further fund their respective parties for different election activities.
•Vote Bank: Criminals are being wooed by political parties and given cabinet posts because their muscle and money fetches crucial votes.
•Narrow Self-interests of Voters: Some voters tend to view such candidates through a narrow prism of being able to represent their community interests by hook or by crook.
•Lack of Choices: Sometimes voters are left with no options, as all competing candidates have criminal records.
•Election Commission’s Recommendations: In 1997, Election Commission directed all the Returning Officers (ROs) to reject the nomination papers of any candidate who stands convicted on the day of filing the nomination papers even if his sentence is suspended.
•It recommended that if a person is found guilty by a commission of Inquiry then he shall be disqualified from contesting elections.
•The First Past The Post (FPTP) electoral system shall be replaced by the 2-ballot system under which a candidate is declared elected from a territorial constituency on the basis of majority principle.
•If no one wins 50 percent of the vote, all candidates except the top two are excluded and voters are asked to vote a second time. In the second round, the candidate who wins the most votes is elected.
•The 2-ballot system will make winning elections very difficult for criminals as they will have to garner the widest possible support from the voters to get the majority votes.
•Along with the 2-ballot system, the negative vote shall also be introduced.
•It confers the power on the registered voters in a constituency to recall their elected representatives from the house on the ground of non-performance. It could empower the people at grassroot level. •The elected representative could be made truly accountable to the people.
State Funding of Elections: It means the government would extend financial assistance to the political parties to contest elections in part or in full, in kind or in cash.
•Various committees (Dinesh Goswami, Inderjeet Committee) on the electoral reforms have recommended for state funding of elections.
•State funding of elections will curb use of black money to a large extent and thereby will have a significant impact on limiting criminalization of politics.