‘Accountability must at Every Level’: SC on PIL to Debar Those Facing Serious Charges from Polls

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NEW DELHI – The Supreme Court on Friday observed that there must be accountability at every level and citing government offices, stressed that a common man is bogged down by corruption, while giving the Centre the final opportunity to file its reply to a PIL for debarring those persons facing trial for serious offences from contesting polls.

A bench of Justices K.M. Joseph and B.V. Nagarathna emphasised that the issue raised in the PIL by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay is an “important matter” and there must be accountability at all levels.

Upadhyay submitted that today, there is a situation where a peon without any decent education can become a minister and “we are celebrating 75 years of independence, but a person with kidnapping and extortion charges can get elected in polls…”

Justice Joseph said: “If we have to truly become a nation we strive to, we have to come back to our values. A common man is bogged down by corruption.”

He added that if one were to go to any government office, can that person come out unscathed? Justice Joseph also said jurist Nani Palkhiwala’s lecture ‘We the people’ speaks about this.

“We have to start at the beginning to retain that character, without that there is no use.” Justice Nagarathna added: “There must be accountability at every level.”

Upadhyay said he had filed a PIL to link property with Aadhaar and the day property is linked with Aadhaar, it will play an important role to weed out corruption.

“We in India don’t need Rs 500 or Rs 2,000 notes as most people have credit card, and debit cards. There needs to be notebandi (note ban) and not notebadli (not exchange)”, added Upadhyay.

The bench orally observed: “You have to get back to your values and if you have that then you have a nation… We need teachers who should be builders of nation… We also have to become humble, to begin with that values are more important.”

After hearing arguments, the top court scheduled the matter for final hearing on April 10.

During the hearing, Centre’s counsel said it would file its response in the matter, though the issue has been covered in previous judgments. The Election Commission contended that it has raised the concern about criminalisation of politics and the issue falls under the domain of the Parliament.

In September last year, the top court had issued notice to the Ministries of Law and Justice and Home, and also the Election Commission on the PIL to debar all those persons, against whom charges have been framed, from contesting election in accordance with the recommendations of the Law Commission’s 244th report.

The petitioner raised concern about an increase in the number of candidates who declared criminal cases against them. Out of 539 winners of 17th Lok Sabha, 233 (43 per cent) declared criminal cases against themselves. After the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 185 (34 per cent) winners had declared criminal cases. -IANS

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