24% Newly Elected Rajya Sabha Member Are Facing Criminal Charges 

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The election commission of India held elections on 19 seats in June 2020. Its results took the total per cent of members of Rajya Sabha facing criminal charges to 24%.

In the year 2020, terms of 73 members of the Rajya Sabha were going to end. Fifty-five members were going to retire in April. Due to which election commission had selected March 26th as the date of the election. Thirty-seven members were already elected without any contest. On March 11th 2020 World health organization declared COVID 19 as a pandemic. This led to the postponement of elections. New dates for the elections were June 19th, 2020. This time the elections were for 19 seats. Bharatiya Janata Party and its allies won 10 out of 19 seats. This took them closer to the majority number. After the result came, there was an increase in the number of M.P.s with criminal charges in Rajya Sabha. Now there are around 24% of M.P.s with criminal charges against them.

National Election Watch Report 

A few days ago, National Election Watch released a report. This report dealt with the analysis of the Criminal Background of sitting M.P.s of Rajya Sabha. It was this report which gave astonishing revelations. As per these reports, around 24 per cent of the Rajya Sabha M.P.s have a criminal case against them. Around 12 per cent (28 M.P.s) of the total M.P.s of the Rajya Sabha have serious criminal cases against them. Bhonsle Shrimant Chh. Udayanraje Pratap Singh Maharaj is a BJP Rajya Sabha M.P.s. Against whom there is a charge of murder (IPC Section 302). Four members of Rajya Sabha have declared cases related to the attempt of murder (section 307, IPC). 4 members of Rajya Sabha are facing charges related to crimes against women. Out of these 4, K.C. Venugopal is the only one who has declared a case related to rape (section 376, Indian Penal Code).   

BJP has the highest number of such members among all the national parties. Out of the 77 Rajya Sabha M.P.s, 14 of their members face criminal charges. The Indian National Congress has 8 out of 40 members who face criminal charges. INC has the highest per cent of M.P.s. When we check the state parties, conditions are the same in their case also. The All India Trinamool Congress has a total of 13 M.P.s in Rajya Sabha. Out of them, 2(15%) have criminal charges against them. 3 out of 9 Rajya Sabha M.P.s of the Biju Janata Dal have criminal charges against them. 3 out of 6 of the YSRCP Rajya Sabha M.P.s have criminal charges against them. Out of the 8, M.P.s that Samajwadi Party has in the Rajya Sabha 2 have criminal cases against them.

Let us take a look at the M.P.s facing serious criminal charges. 5 of the 77 M.P.s of Bhartiya Janta Party face serious criminal charges. The India National Congress has 40 M.P.s in Rajya Sabha. Out of them, 6 face serious criminal charges. At the same time, state parties like AITC have 1 out of their 13 M.P.s who have serious criminal cases against them. In the case of BJD, 1 out of their 9 M.P.s has serious cases against them. 3 out of 6 and 3 out of 5 are the numbers of M.P.s from YSRCP and RJD which have serious criminal charges against them.

Why Is It A Problem?

These stats show that one-fourth of the M.P.s have criminal cases against them. Stats are worse when we study Lok Sabha. Fifty per cent of the M.P.s in the Lok Sabha have criminal cases against them. All this is very scary for any democracy. Our constitution makers were also worried about the same. They worried about the type of legislators who will sit in parliament after them. They worried about the choices which citizens will have in elections in the future. Dr Ambedkar, (chairman, drafting committee) once gave a speech regarding people and the Constitution. He said that the working of every Constitution depends on one the person who is governing it.

Rajendra Prasad once said that it doesn’t matter if a country provides a constitution or not. The future of the country depends on the people who govern it. Who was the ex-Chief Justice of India? He showed concern about the influx of increasing criminals in politics. His views were that such an event would disrupt the constitutional ethos even though the court agreed with the petitioners. They did not make any law on it. Another irony is that our laws prohibit people from voting. But our laws allow the under trials to contest elections.  

Reaction of Judiciary 

A judgment of Patna High Court banned the undertrial from fighting an election. This judgment is from 2004. The Supreme Court upheld this judgment in 2013. But they overturned this judgment in 2018. CJI said that this was beyond the power of the judiciary due to the separation of powers. They would violate this principle if they made this law. Though, even the CJI said that there is a void in the law about this topic. It is going to be a big problem if we don’t find a solution to the increase in criminal charges in politics. Innocent until proven guilty is what governs the criminal law in India. It is a principle which is basic to the criminal law.   

This gives rise to an argument. Will it be fair to stop someone from fighting an election if there is a presumption of innocence? And it is correct to a level. But one must not forget that if winning an election takes these people to powerful positions. And this increases the chances of biased investigation. There have been many such examples when charges were /dropped. Different people cite different reasons for such things. But one thing which stays common is that the accused has won the election. One of the most recent examples was in 2017. Yogi Adityanath became the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh in 2017. After he started his term, police closed cases against him. Uttar Pradesh police closed a total of 20,000 cases. These cases were against CM Yogi Adityanath and his party members.

What Needs To Be Done?

There are different possible ways to tackle this problem. But one of the best is to stop the big parties from nominating a person facing criminal charges. Our country is in a grave situation. We need stronger laws to tackle this problem. The law which stops the issue of a symbol of a party in case the person has serious criminal charges against them. But we must remember, to not let the people exploit such laws. Because then, fake cases would act as a weapon. A weapon to stop the opposition from contesting elections.

Clear guidelines for checking the history and development in the case. The Election Commission should do a thorough check on the criminal charges a person faces. Then only a decision on ban should happen even though we have laws that make it compulsory to declare the cases registered against one. But we have seen that it all has not been much effective. It’s time for the Indian judiciary or the legislative to take the initiative. India needs to stop criminals from entering the place which controls the country.

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