Inextricable Bond between Crime and Politics
The relation between politics and crime has grown even more stronger with the increase in the lust for power, money and muscle. To safely undertake criminal activities, politics was often idealised as a safe haven to protect oneself from the wrath of the authorities. The infamous gangster of Mumbai “Arun Gawli” entered politics and contested elections. He was convicted for the murder of Shiv Sena corporator and is presently serving life imprisonment. This brings us to the prevalent issue of “Criminalisation of Politics”. The politics in India has transformed from selfless work to self-centred work i.e. politics used as a platform to fulfil one’s personal ambitions. Under the pretense of social work and political activities, the presence of people with criminal background in politics has been on a sharp rise. According to the data of the Association of Democratic Reforms in 2014, 1,581 of total legislators have criminal cases pending against them. The staggering number depicts the dreadful condition of politics in India. This trend has many implications for Indian democracy. The use of money and muscle power has been a major cause of manipulating vulnerable electorates. The politicians with influence in any manner are regarded dangerous and are unhealthy for a democratic institution. They are likely to use their influence to get things done as per their whims and fancies which ultimately affects the people at large. It is said that the voter has the freedom to vote anyone, but the voter is also restricted to choose a lesser evil who would inflict mild harm as compared to the other option. But, there is optimism to counter this menace. Many public-spirited individuals and organisations have taken the issue to the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Through the recent move to establish special courts to try criminal cases against MPs and MLAs and a lifetime ban on convicted politicians, a roadmap could be set to move towards the decriminalisation of politics in India.
Roadmap to Decriminalisation of Politics
The Guardian of the Constitution has unfailingly performed its responsibilities to do social welfare and shown activism to cleanse politics off crime. The first such hit by the judiciary was when it ordered to disqualify sitting MPs and MLAs convicted of a crime. This masterstroke was applauded and viewed as a dawn to a new India of the 21st Century. But, there are other issues that need urgent attention. The disqualification was a welcoming step, but one should not be satisfied with a small achievement when there are other challenges standing at the doorstep. To further take the step of cleansing politics, there is a need draw the attention on the petition filed by Ashwini Upadhyay in the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. The petition centers on the roadmap that can be created to completely free politics from crime. This can be done by the “establishment of special courts to try MPs and MLAs for criminal cases” to “lifetime ban on a convicted person or to form political parties or become its office bearers”. The matter is pending in the court to which the Centre and Election Commission of India has been directed to find a viable scheme for the implementation of the same. The moot point here is: whether establishing special courts to try criminal cases against politicians is a viable option.
The viability of putting a burden on establishing new courts in already overburdened judiciary needs to be evaluated. There are issues ranging from relocating to courtrooms to try special criminal cases and shifting the pending cases to these newly established courtrooms. The administration would have to demarcate the accused persons on the basis of association in politics. Further, the monetary aspect would also be an impediment to ensuring the functioning of the courts. The budget allocation would be revised on its basis, and finally, Judges must be carefully appointed to try these cases. These could be some of the hindrances that may jeopardize the process, but these challenges must be addressed expeditiously. It may cause a little inconvenience but it will definitely reap the fruit of the all the labor and hard work. There are special courts to try company matters, administrative matters, therefore, establishing special courts shall not be much of a tedious task. There are bigger gains than losses here. If these courts are established and worked efficiently with transparency and no influence whatsoever then it will achieve milestones to create a crime-free politics. The legislators would also feel obligated to dissociate themselves from any criminal misconduct. Fast track courts are established to try heinous offenses to ensure speedy disposal of cases and quick and judicious dispensation of justice. These special courts would work as fast-track courts which will also reduce the burden of the pending cases languishing in courts.
A Hope for Change
There are other factors as well that is the empowerment of the electorates. The people in politics would awake from their dream of having a sense of ownership. The masses would feel empowered to directly report any case against politicians for any criminal misconduct. Earlier, the common belief or apprehension prevailed amongst the citizens that politicians are immune from any action. But, special courts can be an answer to this. The fast-track courts with a set deadline would make a person think before indulging in any unscrupulous activity. This sense of fear would be instilled only when the trials are conducted in these courts efficiently. Now, the ball is in Centre’s court. It is upon the Centre to show their commitment to free politics from crime and take initiative to come with a framework to execute this ambitious and foresighted vision which may ultimately result into a greater good for the entire nation.