Deccan Herald
New Delhi

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to consider a plea for urgent hearing by a PIL for a direction to the Election Commission to de-register a political party which failed to publish on its website reasons for selecting a candidate with criminal antecedents within 48 hours on its website in spirit of the top court's previous directions.

BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay mentioned his plea before a bench presided over by Chief Justice N V Ramana for urgent hearing.

The bench, however, asked the petitioner if the court can prevent those having pending criminal cases from filing nominations. The petitioner said the political parties were violating two judgements by the top court.

The plea, filed on Monday, contended the poll panel should take actions, including contempt against the parties, which violated the directions issued by the Supreme Court on September 25, 2018 and February 13, 2020.

It said that the immediate cause of filing the petition arose after Samajwadi Party, which is a registered and recognised political party, fielded notorious gangster Nahid Hasan from Kairana but neither published his criminal records in electronic, print and social media nor the reason of his selection within 48 hours.

"Nahid Hasan is in custody under the Gangster Act imposed on him around 11 months ago and he is the first candidate to file nomination in the first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections," his plea said.

On February 13, 2021, Shamli Police imposed the Gangster Act on Nahid Hasan, the two-time MLA from Kairana. He has multiple criminal cases against him and is the mastermind behind the Hindu exodus from Kairana. There are many criminal cases including fraud and extortion, pending against him and he was declared a fugitive by Special MLA-MP Court, his plea claimed.

"There are precedents for this court to give directions to the EC to preserve purity of elections and protect fundamental rights. In ADR case, the court directed EC to call for information on affidavit from each candidate, inter alia, listing offences with which he is charged, assets of himself and his family by issuing necessary orders in exercise of power under Article 324 of the Constitution," the plea pointed out.

The petition also stated that permitting criminals to become legislator interfered with the purity and integrity of the electoral process; violated the right to choose freely the candidate and amounted to a subversion of democracy, a part of the basic structure; and, finally, was antithetical to the rule of law.

Criminalisation of politics in India has only grown. National Election Watch and Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has analysed the sworn affidavits of 539 out of 542 MPs of the present Lok Sabha, which revealed that 233 (43%) MPs have declared criminal cases against themselves, it said.

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