Data shows that 33% of Lok Sabha MPs and 22% of Rajya Sabha MPs are named in criminal cases.
New Delhi: Even as the Supreme Court Tuesday shifted the onus onto Parliament to decide on whether lawmakers facing criminal charges should be disqualified from contesting elections, data shows that at least 30 per cent of all MPs are named in criminal cases.
According to the latest report by election watchdog Association for Democratic Reforms, of the 542 MPs in Lok Sabha, 179 or 33 per cent were found to have criminal cases against them. Of these, 114 or 21 per cent have been named in “serious” cases such as kidnapping, hate speech, and those of crimes against women.
The report, updated Tuesday, shows that of the 228 Rajya Sabha members, 51 or 22 per cent are implicated in criminal cases. Of these, 9 per cent have been charged with serious crimes.
Also read: Supreme Court asks Parliament to frame law to weed out crime from politics
No better in case of MLAs
The picture is equally, if not more, grim when it comes to MLAs named in criminal cases. Of the 4,083 sitting MLAs scattered across the country, 1,355 — nearly a third — have criminal cases pending against them, according to ADR data.
Jharkhand tops the list, with 63 per cent of it MLAs embroiled in criminal cases. Kerala is next, with 62 per cent of its state assembly made of MLAs with criminal cases. Bihar with 58 per cent is third. Mizoram is the only state with MLAs who have no criminal records.
On the party front, all MLAs belonging to the Communist Party of India (Marxist – Leninist) Liberation and the Punjab-based Insaaf Party have criminal records. The number, however, is deceptive as both parties have very few legislators — Insaaf Party has just two MLAs in the Punjab assembly.
Of the bigger parties, 75 per cent of the Shiv Sena’s MLAs have criminal records. Around 20 per cent of the BJPs 1,451 incumbent MLAs have serious criminal records compared to the Congress’ 17 per cent of 773 members.
An affidavit filed by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice in March this year showed similar results: The ministry had collated data from the high courts of various states. According to the affidavit, 1,765 lawmakers have a total of 3,054 cases pending against them.
‘Disappointing SC verdict’
In light of the data, Jagdeep Chhokar, the founding member of ADR, termed the Supreme Court’s verdict as being disappointing.
“The SC is right to say it cannot make laws. But it has a responsibility to step in when there is a legislative gap or when the legislature has not had the time or inclination to make a law, and when the public interest is suffering,” Chhokar told ThePrint.
Chhokar is clear about why India’s highest court might have taken this stand: “They don’t want to annoy the politicians”, he said flatly. “It’s a cautiously delivered verdict”, he said referring to the court’s orders that a candidate standing for elections must furnish his or her criminal records for publication thrice.
Also read: For three years, only 5% of unrecognised parties filed donation reports: ADR
“This leaves us in a very difficult predicament”, said Chhokar, “Impunity will strengthen, and we will continue to elect corrupt and criminal lawmakers. What other choices will a voter have?”