According to Bloomberg news, at least 20% of candidates from all political parties running in this year’s election in India are either convicted or facing serious criminal charges including murder, rape and extortion. In a recent landmark judgment, a 5-judge Constitution bench of the Supreme Court of India has passed categorical direction that for any candidate facing criminal charges, respective political party must declare the criminal background of their candidate in “widely circulated newspapers” and must also give “wide publicity in the electronic media”. Apex Court further held that the criminal background of candidates must also be clearly declared on the website of the respective political party (Public Interest Foundation & Ors. vs. Union of India & Ors.; 2019 SCC 3, 224).
Has anybody seen any advertisements in any major newspaper or TV channel by any political party declaring that their candidate has a criminal background? The Trinamool-Congress (TMC) website has no information about the criminal background of the well-known figure of Mr. Madan Mitra, running in a by-election in Bhatpara (near Kolkata). Mr. Mitra is one of the primary accused in the highly publicized Saradha Chit Fund scam and was released on bail but still facing the serious criminal charges for alleged money laundering. But criminal candidates are plenty in all major political parties including BJP, Congress, CPM. After doing some research, PBT has compiled a list of 12 candidates from BJP/TMC/CPM/Congress contesting election in West Bengal and lodged a formal complaint with the Election Commission for taking action against the political parties for blatant violation of the election rules and directions issued by the Supreme Court of India (see PBT’s complaint letter below).