The nexus of crime and politics has a deep rooted history in India, although it
has caught public attention in the recent years. The N.N Vohra committee set up
to explore crime and politics relationship had recorded the rise of criminals
with the active support of the politicians and the bureaucrats.
had eroded the rule of law and the legitimacy of democratic governance. The
report was never tabled in the parliament and has been kept secret by the
ministry of home affairs. There have been many reports that have been documented
by the scholars on the phenomenal rise of criminal politicians in India.
noteworthy recent work, ‘When Crime Pays: Money and Muscle in Indian Politics’
states the contradiction of free and fair election with uncontrolled
criminality, why political parties embrace criminal candidates and how average
voters pays no heed about the candidates criminal antecedents while exercising
their vote. According to the author, the weakening of the national congress
and the rise of the marginalized created the space for crime and politics. The
key drivers are the collapse of election finance regime and weal enforcement of
the rule of law in the country.
There is an evidence to support the aforesaid
statement. A deep analysis of the affidavits of the candidates shows an
augmentation of the criminals having serious criminal charges and such
candidates winning the elections. The February 2020 judgement notes that the
2004 Lok Sabha election, 24% of the members of parliament had criminal cases
pending against them; in 2009, that went up to 30%; in 2014 to 34%; and in 2019
as many as 43% of the MPs had criminal cases pending against them. 
What is notable is that most of these elected members with criminal records are
extremely wealthier candidates. For example, in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 16
out of 23 winners who had criminal charges registered related to murder are
multi millionaires. The most interesting fact is that the 20214 general
elections re-elected 165 MPs who had an average asset growth of RS 7.5 Crores in
5 years (2009-2014). Thus the nexus of crime and politics is major ills and
evils that is eating into the Indian democracy.
Limitations of role of judiciary:
The courts alone cannot curb the nexus between crime and politics.You cannot
clap with one hand
.The parliament has to step ahead to make law on the
criminals contesting elections. On 25 September 2018, the supreme court of India
delivered a major judgement directing the election commission of India to take
immediate measures to curb criminals in the politics.
A five judge bench headed
by the then chief justice Dipak Mishra stated that the voters should be well
informed about the antecedents of the candidates contesting elections. The court
said that it is not for the courts but the legislature to bring about changes in
the law. The court urged the parliament to make laws against candidates charged
with heinous crimes and deny tickets to those criminals. The highlights of this
important judgement were the directives given to the election commission of
- A candidate must fill in the prescribed form.
- The candidate must fill in bold letters that he is implicated in some
- The candidate must inform his party that he is implicated in some crime.
- On receiving such information from the candidates of his criminal
antecedents, the party must put this information on its websites.
- The criminal antecedents should be published by the candidate and his
party in newspaper which are widely circulated in the locality . In its judgement the Supreme Court explicitly
raises its concern over the augmentation of criminalization of politics.
Restriction in the intervention of judiciary:
All major initiatives against the criminal politics nexus have originated
through civil society activism with the silent support of the judiciary. In 2002
Supreme Court directed for a compulsory disclosure of candidates financial,
educational and criminal background while contesting the elections. The verdict
did not yield any positive outcome as is evident from the rising graph of the
criminal politicians in last three lok sabha election. As soon as the court
passed the verdict, it was bitterly opposed by most political parties and the
union government brought an ordinance to nullify the judgement. But the court
exercised its power and declared the ordinance as unconstitutional.
Analysis of recent cases:
We will be astonished to know that the 2019 Lok Sabha election have the highest
number of politicians who have criminal background. Almost 50% of the member of
parliament have criminal charges against them whom we have elected our
representatives. How would these people strengthen the democracy of our country?
If we take an example of Vikas Dubey, he must have had some political backing.
Otherwise nobody would have had dared to do any criminal activity without any
kind of support from the bureaucrats or the politicians. It is matter of two
days to arrest him and put him behind the bars.
He should have been arrested
immediately in 2001 murder case in which he killed an MLA named Santosh Shukla
from BJP. There were twenty five policemen who were the witnesses but none of
them reported anything against him. As a result, he grew more violent with
enormous political support. We can clearly see the increased criminalization in
But now the time has come to stand against it. It is none other
than we who can stop this practice. When we talk of power, we have legislative,
executive and judiciary. The best part is that judiciary is independent
otherwise there would been no stand for democracy in our country. Though there
has been many judgements which adjudicates for candidates free from any kind of
criminal background but we can still find criminal candidates contesting
elections. We can see an evidence of this in the recent Bihar election.
been strictly stated in the case of Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and
that if any candidate is contesting an election, then the political party
has to give all information on their website pertaining to the candidate (for
example pending cases against him of murder, rape, and the court where the trial
is conducted, case number etc.) Not only that the political party has to also
explain the reason for providing ticket for contesting the election and why any
other individual without criminal antecedents could not be selected.
There are several reasons as to why these candidates are offered tickets. Some
of the causes that contribute to winning of these candidates are that they have
a depiction of Robin Hood in their region so people vote for out of fear. Some
candidates bribe the people by offering them liquor, money etc. the major reason
that lead to the victory of these candidates is that most of the population does
not vote. Voting plays a vital role in winning and losing a candidate. If are 50
candidates in aggregate in the voters list and out of those 30 people does vote
any candidate but they want a change in the society. Then the rest 20 people
will definitely make a particular candidate win if they are their supporters.
The thought of not voting into an election leads to the victory of a wrong
candidate. I do not understand why most of the people do not vote in an election
though the voting is done through secret ballot. In the just concluded Bihar
election, the voting percentage recorded was 57.05 per cent. Although this is
slightly higher than the polling percentage of 56.6 per cent in 2015 when
mahagathbandhan came into existence with JDU and RJD joining hands but lower
than the polling percentage of 57.3 per cent recorded in the 2019 Lok Sabha
election in Bihar. Bihar is a state which ranks lowest in the general
vulnerability index for the way it treats its women.
It is also a state which
has an adverse sex ratio in its population with 918 women for every 1000 men in
2011 census. Yet women have outshined men while participating in the elections.
In 2020 Bihar elections, the voting percentage among women was 59.7 per cent.
Comparing with the men’s participations in the elections, men's stood at 54.6
per cent. Although it is a good sign that women are participating in the general
elections but the decreasing number of male voters is great concern which is not
a good for Indian democracy. Thus, voting without being influenced plays a
vital role determining a healthy democracy.
- Vaishnav Milan, When Crime Pays Money and Muscle in Indian
Politics (HarperCollins, 2017)
- Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and Others, (2020) 3 SCC 734
- Public Interest Foundation v. Union Of India, (2019) 3 SCC 224, 225
- Rambabu Singh Thakur v. Sunil Arora and Others, (2020) 3 SCC 73
- available at https://www.indiatoday.in/elections/bihar-assembly-polls-2020