The Supreme Court recently pronounced a judgement wherein it gave directions to political parties to publicly advertise and declare the number of cases pending against their candidates, and also to explain it to the voters that why they landed up choosing the candidates!
The attempt of the Court in trying to push ahead electoral reforms is based on a contempt petition filed before it since the Court in Public Interest Foundation versus Union of India & Anr, which was decided on 25th of September, 2018, deliberated, painstakingly rather on the fact that there has been criminalisation of politics, and the people with such antecedents should not sit as lawmakers in a constitutional democratic polity.
The ‘opinion’ as this author would take brand the ruling as, premises itself on firstly the fact that the Court has done the right thing since it is the conscience keeper of the democracy, yet the 2018 ruling and the one passed on 12th of February, 2020 is sadly a transgression of the role that has been assigned to the judiciary under the norm of separation of powers and secondly the Court has drastically failed to consider the reality of the contest that ensues to become a lawmaker, and thirdly the Court has absolutely forgotten that it cannot legislate as well as involve itself in the matters exclusively between the parties, candidates and the voters.
The reason why is the Court not the perfect place to decide who gets to become a lawmaker or not, is because the Constitution rests the exclusive power with the Parliament alone, an opinion expressed by the Court, stands more as a moral assertion, over anything else, and still the recent direction, is a travesty, since the Court has tried to stick its fingers in the business of not only the Election Commission of India, but also the political brass, which may in the worst case scenario escalate into a conflict between the judiciary and the legislative. The Court not only went on to ignore that the power rests with the Parliament, and there are provisions in the Representation of People’s Act, 1951 which disqualify persons for not meeting the required the standards.
The lawmakers are a reflection of the psyche of those being ruled, therefore, it is true that there are certain things that the Court may always have to turn a blind eye to, and that the is the way people become politicians in the present scheme of things. Contesting an election means a lot of things and first of which is finances, and image. People pursue various activities to make money, and somewhere, sometime, they land up coming into a conflict with the law. The presumption of innocence despite being there, the test of “framing of charges” just cannot be extended to aspiring lawmakers, since there are attempts to bite on their popularity, and image by instituting false and frivolous cases. There is one thing which is being followed by all parties and that is, when there sitting lawmaker is accused of some serious offence or a heinous crime he/she resigns as a moral responsibility. This kind of internal disciplining in political parties doesn’t call for any interference by the Court, and the the voters remain aware of who they choose, since most of the times the ‘Bahubalis’ are renowned in their constituencies, and sometimes revered!
Again, when it is the task of the voters to choose between the candidates, and the political parties, the Court cannot interfere at all, and thereby directing the political parties does not brood well for its stature as the highest court of the country, as well as robbing the EC of its role, is uncalled for.
The biggest fallacy that the Court has committed is by acknowledging that there exists a nexus between the criminal politician, criminals, bureaucrats and businessmen, which undermines all the people who in the executive and legislature who are honest and dedicated to delivering the best of their capabilities. The Court has absolutely ignored that their exists a ‘None of the Above’ button on every electronic voting machine, which enables the voters to express that none of the candidates above are to my liking, and thus if there is a possibility that the system will collapse as said by the intelligentsia, it shall be through the use of the NOTA button which makes it constitutional or shall be revolutionary.
The methods of becoming leaders in this country are different, and there are many issues, the court has neglected, and there is a possibility that the political parties will not even follow suit, but may challenge the order as well. Judicial adventure at certain point becomes a misadventure when the Court must think and then try to facilitate social change.
The Court, has also gone a little far than just exercising the powers that it doesn’t have, it is the deepening of the divide between the judiciary and the legislature, since the lawmakers don’t declare the judges to be corrupt, or the judiciary to be corrupt, while there is rampant corruption in the judiciary as well! Since the judiciary doesn’t entertain any interference in its matters from the lawmakers how is it justified by doing the same with the lawmakers, and then causing a dysfunction in the smooth functioning of the organs of the State!