Lawyer says court’s order on “dreaded criminals” was violated in Bihar polls
The Supreme Court has decided to examine a contempt petition filed by a lawyer against Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and leaders of prominent political parties for not fully adhering to an apex court order against allowing “dreaded criminals” contest in the Bihar Assembly polls.
A Bench led by Justice Rohinton F. Nariman issued notice in the contempt case to Mr. Arora, Chief Electoral Officer for Bihar H.R. Srinivas, JDU general secretary K.C. Tyagi, Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Bihar president Jagdanand Singh, Lok Jan Shakti Party leader Abdul Khalik, Congress party leader R.S. Surjewala and B.L. Santosh of the BJP.
On February 11, the Bench allowed petitioner-advocate Brajesh Singh to argue his case in person. It scheduled the next hearing for March 9. The court said Mr. Arora and other political leaders, arraigned as respondents, need not be present during the hearing.
Mr. Singh said the Supreme Court on February 13, 2020 directed political parties to publish the criminal antecedents of their candidates in “widely circulated newspapers” which was wilfully disobeyed by political parties in the elections.
The lawyer said the court had ordered parties to publish on their websites the reasons for selecting such candidates and why those without a criminal record were not found better-suited to contest the elections.
Mr. Singh said the parties published the details of their candidates in only one Hindi newspaper and gave similar reasons for their choice of candidates.
These reasons, the lawyer pointed out, invariably were “popularity of the person, social work, educational background, that cases were filed against them out of political vendetta by rival political parties, having shown a good effort in handling the COVID-19 crisis”.
The petitioner said none of these were “cogent reasons” for fielding candidates accused of crimes.
He said 164 of the 353 candidates who contested in the first phase for 71 seats have “tainted image”. Some of them have criminal cases ranging from murder to rape to kidnapping. He said the RJD tops the list followed by the BJP and the other parties.
The lawyer said blood relatives of convicted henchmen have contested the elections as the latter’s ‘proxy’.
The petition has urged the court to direct the Election Commission to take action against the political parties under the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order of 1968.