New Delhi: The Supreme Court in its judgement on Tuesday slapped fine on many political parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Congress, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Communist Party of India (Marxist) and others for failing to comply with the Court’s earlier directions on making criminal antecedents of election candidates public during Bihar Assembly Elections.
The Supreme Court slapped a fine of Rs 1 lakh each on Congress and the BJP for not following the order in last year’s Bihar election.
The Supreme Court division bench, headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman and also comprising Justice B R Gavai, in its verdict today slapped a fine of Rs 5 lakh on the NCP and CPI(M) for not following the order in last year’s Bihar election.
The Supreme Court pronounced its judgement today after hearing a batch of contempt petitions filed, including the one of Brajesh Singh, against the political parties for allegedly not obeying last year’s February 2020 order, of the Top Court during the Bihar Assembly polls.
The Supreme Court slapped the fines on these various political parties, as they allegedly failed to disclose the detailed criminal antecedents of candidates, in last year’s Bihar Assembly polls.
The Supreme Court’s February 2020 judgement clearly said that all the political parties have to explain why the candidates with criminal cases or background have been selected, and these political parties must upload all the details of cases against these candidates with criminal background or their detailed criminal history in their party website, and they have to reason out as to why they have selected them.
The apex court today also in its judgement held that in furtherance of the directions issued by the Constitution Bench in Public Interest Foundation, last year, in order to make the right of information of a voter more effective and meaningful, “we find it necessary to issue the following further directions”.
“Political parties are to publish information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on the homepage of their websites, thus making it easier for the voter to get to the information that has to be supplied. It will also become necessary now to have on the homepage a caption which states ‘candidates with criminal antecedents’,” the apex court said in its judgement today.
The Supreme Court directed Election Commission of India (ECI) to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents, so that at one stroke, each voter gets such information on his/her mobile phone.
The top court directed the ECI to carry out an extensive awareness campaign to make every voter aware about his right to know and the availability of information regarding criminal antecedents of all contesting candidates. This shall be done across various platforms, including social media, websites, TV ads, prime time debates and pamphlets. A fund must be created for this purpose within a period of four weeks, into which fines for contempt of Court may be directed to be paid, the Supreme Court said.
“The ECI is also directed to create a separate cell which will also monitor the required compliances so that this Court can be apprised promptly of non-compliance by any political party of the directions contained in this Court’s Orders, as fleshed out by the ECI, in instructions, letters and circulars issued in this behalf,” the Supreme said, in its judgement.
The top court also clarified in its verdict today that the details which are required to be published, shall be published within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate and not prior to two weeks before the first date of filing of nominations.
The Supreme Court also reiterated that if such, a political party fails to submit such compliance report with the ECI, the ECI shall bring such non-compliance by the political party to the notice of this Court as being in contempt of this Court’s Orders/directions, which shall in future be viewed very seriously.