This article was written by Shrishti Pandey a student of Bharati Vidyapeeth, Pune.

Nothing turns out to be as oppressive and unjust as a feeble government.”

                                                                                                               -Edmund Burke

The qualities of politics or political ethics have touched an all-time low. Politics instead of been associated with social service has now become a full-fledged power and the perks of office are now not sought for service but for profit aggrandizement. Corruption is therefore at its peak. What governance can be expected from such so-called leaders who thrive on money and muscle power? We are in fact to blame for this sorry state of affairs, for ‘the people generally get the government they deserve.’ The lack of education, coupled with the economic and social backwardness of people, has made them gullible to the mechanization of the crafty politician who has their own ax to grind. They are therefore the fodder, on which the ambitions of the politician thrive. This has resulted in a sharp decline in the polity and governance that is indeed a heavy price we are paying for the democracy in India.

“Criminalization of politics” is a political buzz word in the United States used in the media, by commentators, bloggers as well as defenders of high-ranking government officials who have been indicted or faced criminal or ethical investigation. Most of the politicians in the Indian politics have been indicted with criminal or ethical investigations, few of them also have criminal backgrounds.

Corruption has been menacingly in Indian politics at various levels like electoral level, executive level etc high numbers of people with criminal background have polluted the Indian parliamentary democracy. Since India’s first ever General Elections, the existing electoral laws have failed in more ways than one to prevent “The threat of criminalization in Indian politics.”However, a critical analysis of the existing electoral and post-electoral legal provision governing the representation of the people in India is very important.A criminal generally begins criminal activity at the local level with small crimes. In big cities, he begins with country gambling, betting, prostitution etc. These criminals are used by politicians for their selfish ends and in return these criminals seek their protection and patronage to carry their criminal and anti-national activities. As mentioned in the introduction the number of candidates in the electoral fray and a parallel number of legislatures with criminal records has an alarming figure.

The bond between crime and politics is not a new phenomenon. It has been an issue facing the Indian republic since its first post-independence election in 1952. The following lines depict that thinking of present day politicians –

My aim is to serve the people,

Who says this aim is sinister.

First, elect me an MLA,

I will surely become a Minister.

To amass wealth is not a sin,

Laxmi is the Goddess, not a witch

After all, Politics is my business.

What though I become very rich.”

Election Commission of India v. SakaVenkata Rao, AIR 1953 SC 210

In this case, the Supreme Court held that if because of disqualification a person cannot be chosen as Member of Parliament or state legislature for the same disqualification, he cannot continue as a Member of Parliament or state legislature. The same is concluded under Article 101 clause (3) sub-clause (a) and 190(3) (a) of the constitution that subject to any disqualification, his seat shall thereupon become vacant. The Supreme Court has also held that the saving provided for incumbent members under sub-section (4) of Section (3) of the Act 1951 is an ultra vires to the constitution.

This was overruled in the below-mentioned case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India & Ors.

Lilly Thomas v. Union of India and Ors AIR SCC 2013 

Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which provides immunity for the MPs and MLAs from disqualification “until 3 months have been elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed by the court” , was struck down as unconstitutional. The same was struck down as lacking ‘legislative competence’ by placing reliance on, inter alia, Article 102(1)(e) and Article 191(1)(e) of the  Constitution. it was held that the Parliament has no power to enact a law to differ the date from which the disqualification will come into effect in the case of sitting Members.

Thus, Section 8 seeks to promote freedom and fairness at elections, as also law

And order being maintained while the elections are being held. The provision has to be so meaningfully construed as to effectively prevent the mischief sought to be prevented.”A person convicted under the provisions of Section 8(3) of the Act stands disqualified for the period mentioned thereof.

It can be concluded that “Democracy substitute selection by the incompetent many for appointment by the corrupt few “as said by Bernard G. Shaw. There is, however, no denying the fact that it is still the most successful form of govt. today. There is a need for us to have a relook at our constitution, and to ensure that the anomalies that have inadvertently crept in, are set right before it is too late. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, he said “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time

There are now more criminal laws that are now penetrating deeper into the social structure of modern societies. Crime control has turned into an industry, yet it stays inadequate in giving security to its citizens from harm.

Good governance and the socio-economic development of the country cannot happen unless there is a fair and honest administration. Moreover, since the Constitution guarantees equality, why should a law be made to bring about the disparity between persons contributing to the parties and others? Such a law will be ultra vires to the Constitution.

Democracy is the glue that has held India together – and kept it largely peaceful – since independence from Britain in 1947.The power of free speech and free election has helped this huge, diverse country emerge as a global power in the 21st century, but democracy here is still a “ Work in progress.”

As a whole, when criminals, hoodlums, and gangsters become an integral part of the political process, one of the consequences is the gradual demise of democratic institutions. The escalation of violence in recent decades is a great challenge to Indian democracy and society. It is facing problems due to criminal indulgence in politics and getting electoral success. As a result, the ideology of criminalization is not only confined to a specific portion of politics but has penetrated into the entire political system and ruining the democracy of our country.The doctrine of equality, fraternity, justice has lost its real meaning.

In order to regain the true democracy that was for “GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE AND BY THE PEOPLE” we need to recognize that politics should be kept free from ill of social environment, it should be free from the evil of crime and instead should be used for reforming the society.A political party should fight elections and exercise political power on the basis of ideological perspective, taking very much care of social, cultural and communities in India.

There is an urgent need to break the criminal-political nexus. Until some decisive action is taken, soon the people of India will definitely lose all the faith in politics, the politicians, the law and the democracy as well. It will cause such damage to our republic that it will be irreparable.

Hence, the educated and the conscious have to protect India from falling prey to dirty politics which is full of criminals. These evils should be compelled to lose their strength in India with the growth of democratic and humanistic values. We Indians are in desperate need to make a new beginning with the firm determination.

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