This article is written by – Abhishree Paradkar, Symbiosis Law School, Pune
The Apex Court recently, made the decision to impose a fine on eight political parties for flouting the directions given by it, in its February 2020 judgment, which spoke about the publication of the candidate’s criminal antecedents during Bihar assembly polls the previous year and committing a contempt of court for not following the same.
A fine of rupees five lakhs each has been imposed on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Nationalist Congress party. Apart from that, a fine of rupees one lakh rupees each has been imposed on the Bharatiya Janata Party, Indian National Congress, Rashtriya Janta Dal, Janta Dal, Lok Janshakti Party and the Communist Party of India.
The court also observed that the CPI (M) and NCP have not complied with any of the directions that were issued by the court in January 2020.
DIRECTIVES PROVIDED BY THE SUPREME COURT IN FEBRUARY
The court had issued the following directions in February last year-
- The Election Commission shall provide a form to each contesting candidate and the same shall be filled up by them and must contain all the required particulars.
- If any criminal cases are pending against the candidate, then such shall be stated in bold letters.
- If the candidate is contesting the election under the ticket of any political party, then it is a requirement for him/ her to inform the party with respect to any criminal cases that might be pending against him or her.
- The concerned political party is obligated to mention on their website such aforesaid information with respect to their candidates having any criminal antecedents.
- The candidate, along with the political party, must issue a declaration that is widely circulated in the newspapers in their locality, informing the locals about the antecedents of the candidate and also provide wide publicity through the electronic media. By wide publicity the court provides the explanation that the publicity shall be made in the above-mentioned manner and be done at least thrice after the nomination papers have been filed.
The contempt petition that was filed alleged that these directives provided by the Apex Court had been flouted by the political parties during the Bihar legislative assembly elections that were held in October-November of 2020.
It was also noted that the NCP and CPI (M) were two political parties that had not submitted the required Form C7 or C8 for any of its candidates and were therefore, non-compliant.
The senior advocate appearing on behalf of CPI (M) stated that the election process in Bihar was coordinated by the State Committee of the CPI party and therefore, the Form C7 and C8 could not be submitted due to the oversight of the said committee. It was also submitted by him that the party attempted to follow the directions with respect to the declaration of the information with respect to the criminal cases in newspapers as well as the website of the concerned party; the alleged noncompliance act should be seen as an isolated incident. And an unconditional apology was also provided by the party.
The court however, rejected the argument and said that any oversight that is made by the State Committee of the party cannot be held as a valid ground for non-compliance of the directions that were passed by the Apex Court. Therefore, the CPI (M) party was held to be in contempt of the order dated 13 February, 2020.
The senior advocates on behalf of NCP stated that, as the party State Committee had been dissolved in July 2020, they could not comply with the directions. The court also refused to accept this argument.
Other parties were found in partial non-compliance. The court warned them that they should be cautious in future and must always ensure that the directions that have been provided by the Supreme Court along with the Election Commission of India must be followed in letter and spirit.
Live Law New Network. (2021, August 10). Supreme Court Imposes Fine On 8 Political Parties For Violating Directions To Publish Criminal Antecedents Of Candidates In Bihar Polls.
Brijesh Singh v. Sunil Arora., LL 2021 SC 367