Preventing criminals' entry in legislature is need of the hour, says H.K.Dua

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New Delhi, Dec.21 (ANI): Delivering his maiden speech in the Rajya Sabha , The Tribune group of newspapers' Editor-in-Chief H.K.Dua has sought to remind the House that the opportunity to be able to speak in the august House came his way after an odyssey of 45 years in political arena.

Delivering his maiden speech on a Bill related to Electoral Reforms, in Rajya Sabha with the Deputy Chairman K. Rahman Khan in the Chair, H.K.Dua said: "I have gone through the Bill. It is well-meant. But I find it limited in scope and range. It tackles some of the minor glitches that have come to the notice of the Election Commission and other glitches, which have been noticed in the 57 years of the nation's electoral experience. But these 57 years have thrown up major challenges before the electoral system and if we don't meet those challenges, the electoral system will come into disrepute and that will pose a threat to the democracy also."

"I will just mention two of them. One has been - Members have been rightly trying to focus on - the role of big money in elections. It is a serious problem," said Dua and sought to draw attention of the House on how criminals are threatening the electoral system and the functioning of the democracy in the country.

"Criminals in large numbers are infiltrating into the political system....in many Assembly elections they have used their money and muscle. Earlier, they were supporting the candidates and now they themselves are the candidates. And many of them are getting elected."

Dua said: "The bureaucracy in the States is afraid of these criminal leaders, because they have clout with top people in many States.....the bureaucracy is afraid, because they will be transferred or any enquiry commission will be instituted against them..... Police officials are also afraid of taking action against criminal and mafia leaders."

"When criminal leaders have clout with Chief Minister and the local bureaucracy is very deferential to them, the governance in the districts is bound to suffer," he pointed out.

Dua, The Tribune group of newspapers' Editor-in-Chief, said that there is indeed a failure of the system to check their entry into the system. "If this continues, imagine, if they capture a State. And then they will capture more States," he said and appealed that the political parties should do something about it urgently. "They have to come to a consensus on how to ban the criminals at the entry stage itself."

Demanding to ban their entry, Dua remarked there was no merit in looking for security while sleeping with the enemy.

"They are enemies of the country. And, they are enemies of the parties themselves. The best thing is, avoid them and shun them, even if you lose an election. That price is worth paying. It is better than sleeping with the enemy," Dua said.

He reminded the House how many people have been warning the parties against criminals. Even the Supreme Court made a suggestion to the Election Commission that it should take steps to prevent nomination of criminals.

Dua justified banning criminal candidates from filing their nomination papers when charges have been framed by a court, was the right thing to do. "The police can frame false charges. But, if a court frames charges, then it is the time that nomination paper should not be allowed to be filed by a person who has a criminal record, particularly if the offences can fetch a two year-sentence," he said.

Dua hoped that Union Minister for Law and Justice could find out a way out for such a step: " I am sure, Mr Moily's legal acumen and advice of this officials can find a way out and provide a safeguard against the framing of charges which are mala fide."

He said there should be an attempt by political parties to ban criminals at entry stage itself. There should be a serious attempt to ensure - where the charges are framed by a court law - to ban the entry of criminals into the election system by filing a nomination paper and getting elected.

"Not doing at this stage will prove costly for the country and the political system. This problem is growing like cancer, because with every election - various NGOs have collected this information and the Election Commission does not deny those figures - the number of candidates fighting the elections is growing, and not going down. Some of the parties are able to deny the tickets to criminals, but others are not able to deny them the tickets," said Dua.

"But, in totality, their number is growing. If they capture the political system, what will be the fate of India's democracy?," Dua asked in his concluding remarks. (ANI)

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