Banning Politicians with Criminal Records from Contesting Elections Is Against Their Right

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Another assembly election is round the corner and politics in India believe it or not is a game where all that matter is victory and the number of seats that you win. Contestants are chosen by the parties not only on the basis of merit but issues like caste, religion, monetary backing and sometimes even criminal backing. Rampant distribution of money, liquor and other benefits are common during election time. Some benefits are termed as legal and some as illegal for instance if you have in your manifesto a promise like free distribution of tv sets to below poverty line people it is not treated as illegal but if you distribute money for votes it is illegal. It happens all over India, from the lowest level panchayat elections to the parliamentary elections. Incidents of booth capturing and murders during elections are always heard of. Then there are also incidents where people cast votes in the name of someone else. Criminalization of politics is a fact that everyone who has been a part of the process knows. We have either read about it or seen it or heard about it – in fact anyone who holds a little interest in the democratic process of the country is aware of it.

A reality check was done in Bihar in 2010 where it was found that a total of 141 out of 241 or 59% of the elected MLAs had criminal records. The data was from National Election Watch (NEW) and the Association of Democratic Reforms(ADR). Out of these 141 85 had serious criminal charges pending against them – these charges included murder, kidnapping, abduction and illegal payments. All political parties filed candidates with criminal records. GVG Krishnamurthy, the Election Commissioner in 1997 disclosed that in 1996 general elections the commission had seized illegal arms which included thousands of guns, cartridges, explosives and bombs. Suggestions have many a times been made by constitutional bodies like the election commission, to restrain those people from contesting elections who have...
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