International Business Times
New Delhi

A member of the Indian parliament and his wife have been arrested for allegedly torturing and killing their domestic maid in the official residenceeven as another domestic help, a minor, disclosed to police the details of savage beating and ill-treatment that led to the woman's death.

New Delhi police arrested Dhananjay Singh, a leader of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and his wife Jagriti after finding the body of 35-year-old maid Rakhi at their residence with gruesome burn marks inflicted by hot iron rods. She also had injuries on her chest, stomach, arms and legs.

Jagriti, a dentist who also had contested election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly as an independent candidate, allegedly beat the domestic staff frequently and kept them under constant surveillance of cameras around the house.

While a post-mortem report is awaited, the police said constant physical torture and lack of proper medical attention to the injuries  caused the death of the maid, a native of Bangladesh.

Jagriti would allegedly kick the victim, burn her with a hot iron and hit her with sharp objects, including antelope horns, the Hindu newspaper reported, citing preliminary investigations.

Singh, who is facing investigation in a double murder case, had helped his wife in cleaning the crime spot and deleting CCTV footage from about 20 cameras installed in the house.

As many as 29 other criminal cases have also been registered against Singh, according to reports.

However, Singh, a member of parliament since 2009, is not an exception. In the badlands of Indian politics, crime and elected office go hand in hand.  

Out of 4,835 MPs and members of state legislatures, or MLAs, in the country, as many as 1,448 are facing criminal charges, a recent study by theAssociation of Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) revealed.

Of this, about 641 have charges of rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion, etc. pending against them.

About 30% of the Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) members and 17% of Rajya Sabha (upper house) members have criminal cases pending against them, the study said.

In July, India's Supreme Court ruled that politicians convicted in criminal cases would immediately lose elected office and would be ineligible to contest elections.

This, however, did not include disqualification of MPs and MLAs who had already filed appeals against their conviction, making it possible for several tainted politicians to continue in power.

However, even this bargain was not acceptable to the leading political parties, and the government tried to pass an ordinance to reverse the court judgment, but had to withdraw in the face of popular anger.

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