The Hindu
New Delhi

Fifty-three of the 541 newly elected MPs in 16th Lok Sabha have criminal cases pending against them, in which charges have been framed, falling under the Representation of People Act’s provisions for disqualification and declaration of their seats as vacant if they are convicted. As many as 24 of them are from the ruling BJP and five from the NDA constituent Shiv Sena.

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and the National Election Watch released a list of the 53 MPs here on Friday amid the Union Government’s reported push towards decriminalisation of politics following Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent speech in the Rajya Sabha. Mr. Modi had laid emphasis on cleansing the Parliament of members with tainted records through the judicial mechanism within a year.

The “tainted MPs”, who have declared criminal cases falling under Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the RP Act, 1951, in their affidavits include Union Minister for Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation Uma Bharti and senior BJP leaders Lal Krishna Advani and Murli Manohar Joshi.

In a statement issued here, the ADR and the National Election Watch pointed out that 23 of the 53 MPs had been elected to Lok Sabha for the first time and the average pendency of the criminal cases declared by MPs under Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the RP Act was 10 years. Ten MPs have declared criminal cases in which they would face immediate disqualification if convicted.

MPs with the highest number of declared criminal cases where charges have been framed, falling under Sections 8(1) and 8(3) of the RP Act, include Rajesh Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav (RJD), Shrimant Udayanraje Pratapsinha Bhonsale (NCP), P. Karunakaran and P. K. Sreemathi (both CPI-M) and Tathagata Satpathy (BJD).

The statement was signed by ADR/National Election Watch head Major Gen. (Retired) Anil Verma and founder members Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar and Prof. Trilochan Sastry.

The two groups welcomed Mr. Modi’s statement about decriminalising politics on the floor of Rajya Sabha on June 11. They called upon the Prime Minister to deliver his promise of a “taint-free Parliament” by 2015.

Towards this end, the ADR and the National Election Watch requested Mr. Modi to write to the Chief Justice of India to ensure that all pending criminal cases against MPs are decided within one year of announcement of results of elections. Besides, they said both the Houses of the Parliament should pass a unanimous resolution requesting the Chief Justice to ensure the disposal of cases in this manner.

In an interim order on a public interest litigation filed by an NGO, Public Interest Foundation, the Supreme Court had on March 10 this year directed all trial courts to expedite and conclude cases against MPs and MLAs within one year from the date of framing of charges. The apex court had held on July 10 last year that MPs would face disqualification if convicted in the cases falling under the relevant sections of the RP Act.

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