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In the landmark verdict of the case Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora[1], the division bench of Supreme Court ordered political parties to publish the criminal antecedents of their candidates for Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. Detailed reasons should also be disclosed, regarding the selection of candidates with criminal records over other candidates, within 48 hours of the selection of the candidates.

The court also gave guidelines concerning the nature of information required in the report.  The report should include the number and nature of cases, the crime of which the candidate is accused of, case details, stage of the criminal case (FIR, Investigation, Chargesheet or trial).

The report demands appropriate reasons for selection of the accused candidate over other individuals without criminal antecedents, where the Court has clearly specified, that higher or extreme probability of winning that candidate cannot be the only reason for selection.

The same information shall be conveyed over the following platforms

  • Website of party
  • Social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter
  • One local vernacular
  • One national newspaper


The concerned political party shall submit the report of compliance with these directions, with the Election Commission within 72 hours of the selection of the said candidate. Before this judgment no rule mandated an explanation from political parties on why candidates with pending criminal cases are selected as their standing candidates.

Contempt of court

Failure to submit such compliance report, the Election Commission shall bring such non-compliance by the political party concerned to the notice of the Supreme Court as being in contempt of the Court’s orders. Articles 129 and 142 of the Constitution which deal with the contempt power of the Supreme Court and enforcement of its decrees and orders. The case of such contempt shall be filed against the Party president.

The recent orders of SC on a contempt plea raised the issue of criminalization of politics, claiming that directions given by the SC Constitution Bench in its September 2018 verdict, regarding the disclosure of criminal antecedents by candidates are not being complied with. [2]The 2018 verdict contained similar directions as the current one, but lacked measures to check the strict compliance of the direction.

But these directions apply to those candidates who are facing a trial. The section 8 of the Representation of People Act, 1951,[3] bans those individuals from contesting elections for six years, who have faced a jail term for more than two years after the jail term has ended.

But those facing trial, no matter how serious the charges, are free to contest elections, which makes this makes this provision virtually ineffective, by virtue of the fact that cases drag on in courts for years. The criminalization of politics that started in 1970s now has grown in big proportions, with more than 3,800 criminal cases against 1,765 MPs and MLAs across the country, of which 3,045 cases are pending [4]

Therefore, such examples of Judicial Activism are quintessential for organization of fair and just elections and their compliance with principles enshrined in the constitution.




[1] Rambabu Singh Thakur vs Sunil Arora, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 178.

[2] Public Interest Foundation vs Union Of India, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 1617.

[3] Section 8, Representation of People Act, 1951 available at

[4] Associatio of Democratic Reforms,

  • Criminalization of Politics
  • Supreme Court
  • Judicial Activism

BY : Udbhav Bhargava

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