Why is it important to decriminalise Indian politics

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Some things transcend politics and policy and lust for power. Truth, honesty, integrity, decency and fairness are immutable values. They are the ethical substance of life. They ought to be cherished. To sell them out is to sell one’s soul”, said Michael Short. It is significant as it tells us how politics is supposed to be. It is supposed to be for the betterment of the people, to help them progress, to give everyone what they deserve ad above all to be fair and open in their methods, decisions and judgements. The main aim of all the politicians should be to help the people to solve their problem, make policies for the country and therefore help in the overall development of the country. 

Unfortunately this is not always true these days. Politicians seem to be looking to gain personal benefits more than trying to help the public.  
India gained independence on 15th August, 1947. A democratic government was established with the Prime Minister at its head assisted by a Council of Ministers. The Indian parliament consists of two houses, the Lok Sabha ( the lower house ) and the Rajya Sabha ( the upper house ). The members of the Lok Sabha are elected directly by the adults of India by Universal Adult Franchise. This is done to take the people’s choice into account and to make sure that the right candidates are chosen and to ensure transparency in the government. The President is the head of the executive as well as the head of the state.

India’s first president Dr Rajendra Prasad said,” If the people who are elected are capable and men of character and integrity, then they would be able to make the best of even a defective constitution. If they are lacking in these, the constitution cannot help the country. After all, a constitution, like a machine, is a lifeless thing. It acquires life because of the men who control it and operate it, and India needs today nothing more than a set of honest men who will have the interest of the country before them… It requires men of strong character, men of vision, men who will not sacrifice the interests of the country at large for the sake of smaller groups and areas… We can hope that the country will throw up such men in abundance”. We can see that a picture of fairness is painted here where Dr. Rajendra Prasad expected the country to be led forwards by leaders who are just and fair in all their judgements. 

The word “criminalization” literally means making a previously legal activity illegal. “Political decriminalization” means criminals enter politics of a nation, contest for elections and get elected to the State and Union Legislatives and the Parliament. This happens primarily due to a bond or connection between terrorist and a politician. The criminals need the backing or support of politicians who are in government offices. This is a two way road as the criminals need the aid of the politicians to continue their illegal activities and the politicians need money and more strength in the form of increased supporters which the criminals can provide. Hence, both gain something for their personal benefits no matter how wrong the reasons are. With the progress of this process, it soon happens that the criminals themselves start contesting for elections and hence there is a breakdown in the proper and fair governmental mechanism of the nation.

Unfortunately, criminalization has been taking place in Indian politics from a long time. The earliest instances of criminalization is “booth capturing” which was reported in 1957. Booth capturing is a type of electoral fraud which is found in India and a few other countries. Here, the party loyalists take over a polling booth and vote instead of legitimate voters to ensure the victory of their candidate. Hired goons were used for this job. 

Indian politics has been decriminalized for various reasons. Some of the main reasons are: 

Muscle and money power: Many politicians are thriving today due to the to the muscle power provided to them by the criminals. Due to the support of the criminals they get a larger number of votes. Most candidates spend a huge amounts of money on their election campaign. Even if they do get elected, the money they will receive is meagre compared to the money they spent on the campaign, they get the extra money by sometimes creating ties with criminals. Some politicians are ready to do anything to gain power and to win the elections.

Lack of voter information: Voters do not have all the information: most voters are not aware of the candidates, their histories and abilities. They vote who they think deserve to win and sometimes this may not be the right choice.

Denial of justice: There is a huge pile of cases against such corrupt individuals in the Supreme Courts, High Courts and District Courts. One more problem with the courts of India is the number of cases outnumber the number of judges and the number of courts by a huge margin. 

The general public has spoken up against this criminalization in the Indian political tiers. A five judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Mishra said that the criminalization of Indian politics is not incurable but it has to be stopped soon. They passed a group of directions aimed at decriminalisation of politics and giving full information about the candidates to the voters so that they can make a good choice and choose suitable leaders who can lead the country to a brighter and corruption free future.

It is also recommended that the parliament passes laws which would make it mandatory for the political parties to withdraw the membership of any member against whom charges were framed in grievous and outrageous offences and they should not be allowed to contest in elections for any government at any level. The bench also said that each contesting candidate will be required to fill up a form provided by the Election Commission and will have to state about any criminal cases pending against him/her.  This will then be looked into. Then the decision of whether or not the candidate will be allowed to contest the elections.

This is expected to bring about transparency and purity in the government. The voters have an important role in the progress of the country as they are the ones who elect the candidates an hence determine the direction of the country. The decriminalisation of Indian politics will help in the growth of the country and the progress of its people. 

- Debosmita Bhattacharya  


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Why is it important to decriminalise Indian politics Why is it important to decriminalise Indian politics Reviewed by EMN on April 09, 2019 Rating: 5

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