It is a matter of great concern that the number of MPs and MLAs in Parliament and State Assemblies having criminal cases pending against them is steadily multiplying instead of dwindling. And what is even more worrisome is that their cases keep pending for many decades and in the meanwhile they keep feathering their nests freely and vitiate our entire democratic process by resorting to all sorts of tactics to further their own vested interests. This has been continuing unabated since Independence and no serious attempt has been made to even curb this evil menace, leave alone the question of completely eradicating it. It is a national shame but as usual we never like admitting it and try to justify it on one pretext or the other. Only this alone can explain that why criminals are registering a sharp increase in Parliament and State Assemblies steadily and yet all parties do no groundwork to at least contain this evil menace and are happy with just tongue-lashing on the other parties about giving tickets to so many criminals but never self-introspect.
How can one expect good governance in our country when criminals having many heinous cases pending against them like rape, murder, extortion, dacoity etc become MPs and MLAs freely. And the worse than snail’s pace with which cases keep pending first in lower courts, then in higher courts and ultimately in the highest court for many decades makes a mockery of our entire legal system. What is even worse is when Supreme Court after the case reaches from lower courts to it again sends it back to lower courts as we saw recently in case of Narendra Modi! I will not comment on the merits of the case against him but this is most ridiculous as the same process starts over once again. This is something which causes maximum consternation to people.
However, it gives one immense satisfaction to note that the Supreme Court recently on November 4, 2011, issued a notice to the Centre, all states and the Election Commission on a writ petition filed by members of the India Rejuvenation Initiative for fast tracking criminal cases pending against MPs and MLAs. The petitioners among others included—JM Lyngdoh, former Chief Election Commissioner and Air Chief Marshal S Krishnaswamy (retd), former Chief of the Air Staff. They voiced their deep concern at the rapid criminalisation of politics. They were at pains to point out that in 2004, out of the 543 members in the Lok Sabha, 128 MPs had chargesheets filed against them. The worst part is yet to come. In 2009, the figure rose to 162 and 76 of them were facing charges of being involved in heinous crimes like murder, rape and dacoity. Even if now they are not stopped, very soon we may see their number crossing more than half and this will have disastrous consequences for our national interests which will be thrown in a dirty lane. Already things are not even satisfactory what to say about being good!
Similarly when we talk about State Assemblies, things are even worse and the strength of members having criminal background is burgeoning rapidly as it is not considered a taboo even by national parties rather considered a useful asset even though no one will admit it openly. Why is it that we see too many MLAs fighting with each others like wild animals? It is obviously because they come from a criminal background and are no saints who will preach love and tolerance.
Supreme Court has expressed its fuming anger as to when all states have fast track courts then why are not such cases on MPs and MLAs decided on priority basis. The apex court bench headed by Justice P Sadasivam has issued a notice to Centre, all state governments, Law Ministry, Lok Sabha Secretariat, Rajya Sabha Secretariat and Election Commission and asked them to reply within four weeks. What an unbeatable irony that to acquire any government job, the name of the aspiring candidate should not even appear in any police record under any circumstances but to become an MP or an MLA, even though one may have crores of pending cases against one for heinous offences like rape, murder, dacoity, extortion et al but still one has the exclusive privilege of labeling them as ‘baseless’ and ‘politically motivated’ and play one’s role in making laws and governing the country. Can the future of our nation be ever in safe hands under such circumstances?
By Sanjeev Sirohi