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Wednesday, 12 March 2014 00:00
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Thanks to Supreme Court, we may finally get untainted legislators

Given that around 30% of sitting MPs in the Lok Sabha, and 17% in the Rajya Sabha going by data from the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) have criminal cases against them—the figure is 31% for sitting MLAS—two recent Supreme Court rulings offer hope for cleaning up India’s politics. Last year in July, the Supreme Court ruled that convicted legislators would be immediately disqualified, and struck down the three-month window they had for appeal.

But that applied to legislators who are convicted, what about the ones where the conviction takes years? The ADR analysis shows 18% of those contesting assembly or parliamentary elections have criminal cases against them. A Raja's 2G scam case, for instance, is still going on, as is the Commonwealth Games case. In most political corruption cases, delays of 10-15 years are not unknown, making a mockery of the law on tainted politicians. Which is why the Supreme Court's latest ruling, that all cases involving politicians have to be fast-tracked, plugs a big lacunae. India may finally get the politicians it deserves, not just those who have criminal cases against them but are too powerful to be kept out of politics. There is still a window, in the sense cases can be extended if the chief justice of the high court agrees to it. But, were this to be abused—the cases have to be completed within a year using, if need, daily hearings—presumably the Supreme Court will close this window as well.

 

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