It is good that our Supreme Court has asked the Centre to come up with a scheme to establish special courts to try politicians facing criminal cases. Our governments at the Centre and in the States both must do the needful and not pretend any paucity of funds in setting up the desired courts across the country.
Today our Nation very much needs judicial officers, prosecutors, other officers and the appropriate infrastructure for the establishment of such courts . According to an estimate, 34 per cent of our Members of Parliament have criminal cases pending against them. The scenario in our legislative bodies in various provinces is not much different . The influential accused politicians are able to skip in serious criminal cases. There is a protracted and repeatedly postponed trial. The accused manage to face their cases while being free on bail. Many of them are able to engage in their routine political activities , fighting elections or even holding public offices.
Ours is a parliamentary form of government . We cannot afford criminal elements in our legislative institutions . It is our elected representatives who run the government . If the representative themselves are corrupt, our democracy cannot be meaningful in ensuring good governance and fostering all-inclusive development in the entire Nation. Given this fundamental truth about our parliamentary system, a March 2014 Supreme Court order had rightly directed that all cases against politicians be disposed of within one year.
The Government must take the Court’s directives seriously . Founding fathers of modern India did well to have a Constitution with judicial independence as part of its inalienable, basic structure. The Government would do well to use this tool to keep corrupt elements out of our political system.
Our independent judiciary can be the best remedy indeed . Recently, the Supreme Court observed that “corruption is a vice of insatiable avarice for self-aggrandisement by the unscrupulous, taking unfair advantage of their power and authority.” All fellow judges must join in a “collective, committed and courageous turnaround” to “free the civil order from the suffocative throttle of this deadly affliction.” The courts should ensure the corrupt did not hide behind evidential inadequacies, processual infirmities and interpretational subtleties, all artfully advanced in their defence.
The Apex Court also suggested, “Every citizen has to be a partner in this sacrosanct mission, if we aspire for a stable, just and ideal social order as envisioned by our forefathers and fondly cherished by the numerous self-effacing crusaders of a free and independent Bharat, pledging their countless sacrifices and selfless commitments for such a cause.”
Pertinently, the Government must also initiate legislation to keep the criminal politicians off our parliamentary institutions for ever. Under the present law, a convicted politician is disqualified for contesting elections only for six years after their release from prison. This law needs to changed. The criminals must be permanently barred from politics in democracy.