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Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and others (2020) – Enhancing Transparency in Indian Elections

This topic of “Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and others (2020) – Enhancing Transparency in Indian Elections” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.

Introduction

  • Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and others is an important Indian Supreme Court judgment, delivered on 1st April 2020.
  • This case involved the interpretation of the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
  • The judgment addresses the issue of whether political parties should disclose criminal antecedents of candidates during elections.
  • The decision aimed to increase transparency in the electoral process and curb the influence of criminal elements in Indian politics.

Background

  • The petitioner, Rambabu Singh Thakur, filed a PIL (Public Interest Litigation) before the Supreme Court of India.
  • The respondents included the Election Commission of India (ECI) and the Union of India.
  • The petition sought directions to ensure that political parties do not field candidates with criminal backgrounds during elections.

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Arguments

Petitioner’s Arguments:

  • Political parties should be required to disclose the criminal background of their candidates during elections.
  • Such disclosure is necessary to maintain transparency in the electoral process and reduce criminalization in politics.
  • There should be a mechanism in place to ensure that political parties comply with these disclosure requirements.

Respondents’ Arguments:

  • The ECI claimed that it had already issued guidelines for political parties to disclose the criminal antecedents of their candidates.
  • The Union of India argued that criminal cases against candidates should be allowed to run their course through the judicial process.

Issues before the Court

  1. Whether political parties should disclose the criminal antecedents of their candidates during elections.
  2. What mechanisms should be put in place to ensure compliance with such disclosure requirements.

Judgment

  • The Supreme Court directed all political parties to publish the criminal antecedents of their candidates contesting elections.
  • This information must be made available on the party’s official website, social media platforms, and in local newspapers.
  • The Court directed the ECI to ensure that the candidates themselves disclose their criminal antecedents on Form 26 while filing their nomination papers.
  • Failure to comply with these requirements would result in contempt of court proceedings against the political party and its chief.
  • The Court also directed the ECI to submit a compliance report to the Supreme Court within 72 hours of the election results.

Significance

  • This judgment has significant implications for the Indian electoral system and the functioning of political parties.
  • By requiring parties to disclose the criminal backgrounds of their candidates, the judgment seeks to enhance transparency and promote informed choices among voters.
  • The decision also aims to reduce the influence of criminal elements in politics and ensure a cleaner political environment in India.

This article is part of the series “Landmark Judgements that Shaped India” under the Indian Polity Notes & Prelims Sureshots. We aim to make the articles comprehensive while leaving out unnecessary information from the UPSC perspective. If you think this article is useful, please provide your feedback in the comments section below.

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