Political parties must make criminal records of their poll candidates public within 48 hours of their selection, the Supreme Court said today, in a big step towards decriminalising politics.
In a move to stop state governments from misusing their powers, the court also said criminal cases against MLAs or MPs cannot be withdrawn without approval from High Courts.
In an earlier ruling in February last year linked to the Bihar election in November, the Supreme Court had said candidates must upload these details either within 48 hours of their selection or at least two weeks before the first date of filing nomination papers. That has now been limited to only 48 hours.
The court is hearing a petition that calls for suspending the symbol of political parties that do not disclose criminal backgrounds of their candidates.
Petitions have asked for contempt against political parties for not obeying the February 2020 orders of the Supreme Court.
That verdict had said all political parties had to explain why they chose candidates with criminal cases and disclose details of the cases on their party website along with the reasons for selecting such candidates.
The Election Commission had directed political parties to publish this information on candidates in newspapers.
The CPI(M) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) had given an unconditional apology to the Supreme Court for not following orders on disclosing the criminal antecedents of their candidates in the Bihar assembly polls
The Election Commission had told the court it would suspend their symbols in line with the Supreme Court order.