Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Dr.JP for reforms to curb criminals’ entry into legislative bodies

Lok Satta national President Jayaprakash Narayan underscored the need to bring political reforms to check the increasing entry of criminals in legislative bodies in the country. Participating in a debate on ‘Supreme Court verdict- Criminalization of Politics’ organized by HMTV here, Jayaprakash suggested three steps to cleanse politics from criminalization of the system.

In the first step – the electoral battle should be a level playing field for all, while the second step should ensure internal democracy in all political parties. The third step should stop promoting caste, creed, gender and religion in politics and offering freebies to woo voters for short term political gains.

Stressing the need to bring proportionate representation in the election of the representatives to legislative bodies, the Lok Satta party leader said it was unfortunate that criminals and corrupt politicians were fighting the elections and the honest people, intellectuals and social activists were staying away from active politics. NALSAR Professor Madabhushi Sridhar said the YSR Congress party President YS Jaganmoahn Reddy, who was languishing in jail in connection with assets case, is technically barred from contesting elections as per the recent Supreme Court judgment. Though Jagan was not found guilty, he was a main suspect and under trial in the case. Misusing power was a big crime when compared to other crimes mentioned in Section 18 of the Cr PC.

Taking a dig at the political class for opposing the Supreme Court ruling, Sridhar said the apprehension that the provision would be misused was nothing but an evasive tactic. “Those who have the ability to apply for bail will not have any problem. They can come out clean if they don’t commit any sin” he added. The apex court has struck down an anomaly in the law which has been going on unaddressed in our electoral system for the last 63 years, he explained. Sridhar further suggested that even if there was an apprehension of misuse, it could be corrected by political class. “The persons who were arrested need not be disqualified from contesting the polls at the time of filing of FIR. They can even be allowed at the time of charge sheet. But they should be disqualified if the court takes cognizance of the offense and if the judge finds prima facie evidence. The law can be amended in that way” he opined.

Ramachandra Rao, senior advocate, argued that there is some possibility of misuse as several governments in some states and the Centre have been using the law enforcing agencies to score some political vendetta or the other of late. “There may not be much problem if the case pertains purely political in nature. But a person should be disqualified if he resorted to moral turpitude” he felt. Concurring with his view Sridhar said the people of the country cannot allow a rapist, who is in jail, to participate in making an anti-rape law. “This list of heinous crimes has been mentioned in the law which include murders, rapes, moral turpitude etc. Moreover, those who won the elections take oath to abide by the constitutional norms. When he himself violates the constitution, how far it is justifiable?” he asked.

Jayaprakash Narayan narrated how the criminalization of politics has grown over the years. “There are more than 1500 people with criminal background in our legislative bodies including parliament. They included more than 700 hard core criminals. Another 1000 people have been entering the law houses without cases. Many number of people have been winning the polls by rousing the passions on caste, religion and regional lines. Our political parties have been crying foul because many criminal elements have strong network to win elections” he castigated.

Suggesting a panel under the chairmanship of a Judge to look into factors which can lead to misuse of the law enforcing agencies, JP said the move by Supreme Court, even though very small, should be widely welcomed.

Courtesy: The Hans India

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