The Election Commission doesn’t have the authority to make laws. It can suggest amendments in laws. The issue of criminalisation of politics comes under section 8 of Representation of People Act. It has four sub-sections, which deal with different crimes and punishment for them. Before I came in, this section was not defined properly. Even if the trial court convicted someone, the person could contest the election because he could always appeal to a higher court. In our country where even getting a FIR filed is an achievement, getting punishment from a lower court is an enormous achievement. I studied the decisions of High courts and Supreme Court and found that anyone who has been punished by a lower court, can be stopped from contesting election.
In spite of several laws, why do people with criminal record win elections?
Who shows the courage to speak out against criminals? The people in the film industry are heroes in the public eye. But, their exploits can’t be called heroic. The only man in the industry is a girl - Priety Zinta.
Aren’t the voters responsible for electing criminals?
The common man doesn’t think like the people living in cities and bungalows. He has several issues before him while going to vote. Don’t forget the Robin Hood Syndrome. The people, who are seen as criminals, affect only a small number of people due to their criminal acts, but a large section think of them positively.
Translated from Outlook Saptahik, dated February 17, 2003