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SC plea seeks direction to EC to ensure parties publish criminal history of their candidates

New Delhi: A PIL has been filed in the Apex Court seeking direction to the Election Commission of India to take steps in ensuring that the political parties publish the details of their candidates, regarding the criminal cases against them along with a reason for such selection on the Home Page of its official website in the spirit of the apex court judgment.

The plea stated that the Samajwadi Party fielded notorious gangster Nahid Hasan from Kairana on 13th January 2022, but published his criminal records neither in electronic, print or social media nor stated the reason for his selection within 48 hours, as per the direction of the Supreme Court. The petition sought directions to the Election Commission of India to de-register the political parties that violate the directions of the apex court.

It also sought direction to the ECI to ensure that every political party explains why it preferred a candidate with criminal cases and did not select a person without criminal antecedents within 48 hours.

The plea, which was filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, also urged the ECI to file a contempt case against the President of the party that violates the directions of the Apex Court.

“Nahid Hasan is in custody under the Gangster Act imposed on him around 11 months ago and he is the first candidate to file nomination in the first phase of Uttar Pradesh Assembly Elections. On February 13, 2021, Shamli Police imposed the Gangster Act on Nahid Hasan, the two-time MLA from Kairana. He has multiple criminal cases and is the mastermind behind the Hindu exodus from Kairana. There are many criminal cases including fraud and extortion and was declared a fugitive by Special MLA-MP Court,” the plea stated.

It went on to say that even the recognized political parties are giving tickets to dreaded criminals, and therefore, voters find it difficult to cast their vote freely and fairly, though it is a fundamental right under Article 19 of the Constitution.

As per the Supreme Court’s judgments in 2018 and 2020, political parties were ordered to publish the entire criminal history of their candidates for the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections along with the reasons for fielding suspected criminals over decent people. The information should be published in a local as well as a national newspaper as well as the parties’ social media handles. It should mandatorily be published either within 48 hours of the selection of candidates or less than two weeks before the first date for filing of nominations, whichever is earlier. The published information on the criminal antecedents of a candidate should be detailed and include the nature of their offences, charges framed against him, the court concerned, case number, etc.

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