Supreme Court junks plea seeking contempt proceedings against heads of political parties not revealing candidates' criminal background in UP Polls

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The bench, while dismissing the plea, remarked that the Election Commission is the competent authority to deal with the issue.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices Gavai and Narasimha today dismissed a plea seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against various political leaders, for allegedly not following court’s directions to prevent criminalisation of politics in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls that took place this year.

The bench, while dismissing the plea, remarked that the Election Commission is the competent authority to raise such issues.

The above was held in a plea wherein contempt was sought to be initiated against several party leaders including Sonia Gandhi, Arvind Kejriwal, Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Sushil Chandra among others. It was argued that certain political parties did not comply with the Supreme Court’s judgment to declare criminal antecedents of its candidates in the Uttar Pradesh elections.

In August 2021, Supreme Court issued following directions:

1) Political parties to publish info regarding criminal antecedents of candidates on homepage of their websites - a homepage caption stipulating "Candidates with criminal antecedents" gives voters easier access to information.

2) Election Commission of India is to create a dedicated mobile application containing information published by candidates regarding their criminal antecedents.

3) ECI to carry out an extensive awareness campaign to make every voter aware of their rights and availability of information regarding criminal antecedents of candidates through various means, for which a fund must be created within 4 weeks.

4) Compliance monitoring Cell to be set up by ECI to look into the requisite compliances and Court to be apprised of non-compliance.

5) As stipulated in the earlier order dated February 13, 2020, the political parties must publish the details of criminal antecedents within 48 hours of the selection of the candidate.  (This essentially means that the Court has modified its earlier direction of 2 weeks buffer to political parties)

5) If political party fails to submit compliance report with the ECI, the ECI is to bring non-compliance of the political party to the court's notice.

Case title: Brajesh Singh Vs Akhilesh Yadav