Voters have the right to know crimnal background of candidates: Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday favoured “proper” dissemination of information about criminal antecedents of candidates and the Election Commission could be asked to direct political parties to ensure that persons facing criminal charges so that voters can make a informed choice while exercising their franchise.

After making these observations, a five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra reserved the judgement on a clutch of petitions after the parties including the poll panel and the Centre concluded their arguments.

Senior advocate Krishnan Venugopal, appearing for Mr. Upadhyay, said the court may direct the Election Commission of India to take steps to ensure that political parties do not allow politicians facing criminal charges to contest on their tickets and symbols. Mr. Venugopal that “Caesar’s wife must be above suspicion” should be made applicable in case of politicians.

The top court is dealing with the question whether a legislator facing criminal trial can be disqualified at the stage of framing of charges in a case. Presently, lawmakers are barred at the time of conviction.

The intention of the Lordships is laudable. But the question is whether the court can do it. The answer is ‘no’,” Attorney General K K Venugopal, representing the Centre, told the bench, which also comprised Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.

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