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1. Introduction
-The world of gangsters and politicians have stitched a seamless web around their vote bank in India.

2. Article 326

3. Case Law- Public Interest Foundation vs Union Of India) (2019)

4. Case Law - Thakur v Sunil Arora

Are Criminals, politicians or politicians, criminals?

I would call them ‘crimacians’.

The world of gangsters and politicians have stitched a seamless web around their vote bank in India.

Citizens exercise their constitutional right under Article 326 in delusion, befuddled by the true identity of their leader.

Soliciting votes can be done through power, fame, work or threat.

This unsinking bond came to light with the recent encounter of VikasDubey. The man’s story is not a monotonous tale of his wickedness, it goes beyond and uncovers a heroic and worshipped side to him guarded by the association of his political companions. The enormity of his crimes was safely buried under the garb of his magnanimity.

Dubey, despite being charged under the UP Gangster’s Act, National Security Act and NDPS act continued through his political stints.

Somewhere in 1993, he ran for MLA elections through a BJP ticket, and then through a BSP ticket in 1995-96.

He had great reverence for Hari Krishna Srivastava and respectfully addressed him as his ‘political guru’.

In 2001, Dubey, was accused of killing UP politician, SantoshShukla. He was arrested and later acquitted as 20 witnesses turned hostile.

None of the witnesses were questioned and no appeal was filed upon the final decree of the Court.

While Dubey’s life seemed to fade in custody in the four years he was kept there, his wife was seen contesting elections under the banner of the ruling party.

There was no kryptonite to dim VikasDubey, as he prepared to run the assembly elections in UP in 2022.

Politician Mukhtar Ansari, who won 5 elections from Mau Assembly Constituency, was a member of BSP before he was expelled in 2010 on account of his criminal activities. He was acquitted by CBI Special Court in the murder of BJP MLA, KrishnandaRai.

Despite such grave charges, Delhi Chief Minister ArvindKejriwal, expressed his hopes to join hands with Ansari to give a tough fight to his political contemporaries.

The Union Cabinet and the Speaker of LokSabha are also not free of criminal blots. With their hands stained in blood, they continue to govern the largest democracy of the world.

The National English Watch and the Association of Democratic Rights in 2019,analyzed the ‘self-sworn’ affidavits of 58 ministers including the Prime Minister.

They found that 39% of ministers had criminal charges against them, while 29% had ‘serious’ charges against them.

They stated that there was a 43% inflated percentage of criminal cases against MP’s in 2019, as compared to a 24% in 2014.

Challenging the spread of forbidden activities in politics, a writ petition was filed in 2019. (Public Interest Foundation vs Union Of India) (2019) 3 SSC 224

The petitioner in this case stated that, the presumption of innocence, till proven guilty is an essential feature of criminal law. However, any proceeding prior to conviction does make a person liable under civil law. And therefore, if a person charged with an offence is kept from contesting elections, it will only amount to a reasonable restriction and not a separate offence.

The petitioner forwarded an interesting question by asking,that,if a person charged with an offence with an imprisonment of five years or more is considered undesirable for a government job, then how can such a person be allowed to become a law maker and control the working of the government machinery?

The Court here took a progressive view of the matter and stated that even though they did not want to over- step the boundaries and take over the task of the sword or the knife of government, yet, they did think that “the treatment has to be aggressive”.

The Court in it’s language held that, “There is a need for rectification of a system, failing which there will be a progressive malady in governance and gradually, the governance would be controlled by criminals.”

Finally, the Court concluded by stating that, “Informed choice is the corner stone to have a pure and strong democracy.”

However, it took the country another Judgment and stringent guidelines based on a contempt petition filed in the case of  Ram Baby Singh Thakur v Sunil Arora to realize their duties of keeping citizenry abreast with their leader’s credentials.

The Court passed muster in it’s duty, but stopped short of barring criminals from contesting elections.

All calls of integrity and security are brushed aside every 5 years, exposing the country to the dangers of it’s own kind.

Ironically, the only saving grace of our elections is that section 62(5) of the Representation of People’s Act 1951 disqualifies prisoners from voting in an election.

Thus, all we did is prevent one criminal from choosing another who speaks his language.

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Category Criminal Law, Other Articles by - Prakriti Rastogi