India Real Time
New Delhi

Election candidates convicted of or facing charges of crimes such as rape, murder and attempted murder are almost twice as likely to be elected in India as those with clean records, according to data released Monday by the Association of Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch. 

The New Delhi-based nonprofit parliamentary watchdogs found that candidates with criminal records for serious crimes had a 23% chance of winning an election compared with a 12% chance for those who have never been on the wrong side of the law.

Chances of winning were calculated by dividing the number of winning politicians by the number of candidates in each case. It found that for every 100 candidates with criminal charges against them, 23 would get elected, compared to 12 successful candidates out of every 100 without any criminal investigations against them.

The study was based on results collected from 62,847 candidates nationwide during the last two elections in 2004 and 2009. India goes to the polls again in a general election that must be held before May.

The data showed that the total number of candidates with criminal cases against them when they contested elections rose to 31% from 26% between  the  2004 and 2009 general elections.

The Supreme Court recently passed a judgment banning politicians from standing for elections if they have pending criminal charges against them and to oust incumbents convicted while in office. The court also barred politicians standing for elections from prison.

A loophole in the law had meant politicians with criminal convictions could remain in office while they appealed. Criminal cases can take years in India, allowing politicians found guilty of crimes to keep their jobs.

Since 2004, out of the 62,847 candidates who contested national or local elections, 11,063 (18%) had been convicted or faced criminal charges. Of those, just over 5,250 were serious criminal cases, such as rape or murder charges, the Association of Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch data show.

In the lower house of Parliament, 162 of India’s 543 lawmakers have criminal cases against them. Of those, 76 are categorized by the ADR as serious crimes. In the upper house, 40 out of 232 lawmakers face charges, 16 of them are for serious crimes, ADR says.

The analysts also studied the gender breakdown of candidates in elections. Out of 62,847 candidates analyzed who have contested elections since 2004, only 7% were women, according to the study. Among women lawmakers at the local and national level, 16% had criminal investigations against them, with 6% deemed serious. Among male lawmakers, 30% faced criminal investigations or were convicted, and 14% of those were serious in nature.

The researchers also looked at the educational background of lawmakers. They found that 61% of those who have been elected since 2004 have degrees.

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method