Declare criminal antecedents before contesting, SC tells lawmakers

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The Supreme Court has directed that each candidate shall declare his/her criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting an election.  The SC said that citizens have a right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates.  ‘Political parties shall be obligated to put all information about their candidates on their websites’, SC stated on Tuesday. SC also directed wider publicity, through print and electronic media, regarding antecedents of candidates affiliated to political parties. The apex copurt also asked the legislature to consider framing law to ensure decriminalisation of politics. ‘Informed choice is corner stone of democracy,’ the SC said and termed the criminalisation of politics of the largest democracy as unsettling.  A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said that citizens have a right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates. In the unanimous verdict, the bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said that political parties are obligated to put all the information about their candidates on their websites. The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas raising a question whether lawmakers facing criminal trial can be disqualified from contesting elections at the stage of framing of charges against them. The status before the filing of these petitions was that lawmakers were barred under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act from contesting elections only after their conviction in a criminal case. The verdict was reserved on August 28. 

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