SC puts ball in PM’s court on criminal Ministers: Will Modi government walk the talk now?

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Supreme Court
Narendra Modi's long talk on corruption and criminalization of politics is on test now. In one of the key judgment, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that the corrupt Ministers should not be allowed to discharge their duty.

Though, the court refused to disqualify such Ministers and left it to discretion of the Prime Minister to take the final decision on the matter.

"Those in conflict with law and involved in offences of moral turpitude and corruption should not be allowed to discharge duty", the five-member apex court bench headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha said.

Leaving the final decision to Prime Minister and State Chief Ministers, the court said, "Constitution reposes immense trust in PM and CMs and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality".

Petition was filed for removal of Ministers in 2004

A petition was filed way back in 2004, which had sought removal of corrupt leaders, i.e Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mohammed Taslimuddin, MAA Fatmi and Jai Prakash Yadav from then UPA Government.

Though, petition was rejected initially but taken by country's five senior most judges to further take a look.

The Centre had put up this argument that removing public representatives is against the Constitutional prerogative of Parliament and the will of the people.

The Government further contended that "once a person is an MP, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers, if the Prime Minister decides."

16th Lok Sabha has maximum number of criminal MPs

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) report, which cites election affidavits filed before the Election Commission, as many as 34 per cent of the new MPs face criminal charges in 16th Lok Sabha (Highest in any of the previous one), while this figure in 2009 and 2004 stood at 30 and 24 respectively.

The report further states, out of total 541 newly-elected MPs, 53 have declared criminal cases (where charges have been framed) under Section 8(1) and/or 8(3) of the Representation of People's Act.

Thirty percent of Ministers in Modi Government faces charges

And more startling fact is thirty percent of Ministers in the new dispensation faces criminal cases against themselves and if we segregate that number further under "serious criminal cases" category that comes to 18 per cent.

A NDTV report says that Modi's cabinet has 14 Ministers including Uma Bharti (Water Resources Minister), Nitin Gadkari (Transport Minister) and Nihalchand Meghwal who have criminal cases against them.

Cases right from criminal intimidation to rape charges all pervades in Modi's cabinet.

These figures raise a pertinent question that why Modi Government who pilloried UPA so much on the front followed the same. It really deflates the tall promises by the party to keep the Parliament free from criminals.

SC took cudgel so many times

Last year in one of the landmark judgment the Apex court had said that charge-sheeted peoples representatives (MPs and MLAs), on conviction for offences, will be immediately disqualified from holding membership of the House.

And that is why RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav after his conviction in the 1995 fodder scam case, was disqualified to contest election.
In the month of March this year, the Supreme Court had directed the lower court to expedite such matters.

Setting a deadline, the court ordered to complete trial within a year of framing of charges.

However earlier this month, when Modi Government approached the court to accelerate the whole process, the court flayed them saying it cannot fast-track criminal cases against MPs alone.

UPA Government faced the consequence for trying to undo the SC judgment through Ordinance

After the Apex court debarred any convicted politician to contest election last year, the Congress led UPA Government tried to undo the judgement.

They even brought up the Ordinance regarding the same and was even passed by Union Cabinet then.

But soon Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi came into action and going against cabinet decision, he curtailed the whole process.

In an attempt to score political brownie point, though he failed, junior Gandhi had said that such Ordinance must be thrown away.
When asked about his opinion, he had said, "It is complete nonsense, it should be torn up and thrown away" .

Now onus is on Modi Government

Above figures raise a pertinent question that why Modi Government who pilloried UPA so much on the front, didn't take precaution before giving tickets to candidates having chequered record.

It really deflates the tall promises by the party to keep the Parliament free from criminals.

Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi had openly criticised the Congress for bringing an Ordinance to nullify Supreme Court's judgement and promised that his government would make the August House free from MPs maligned in criminal cases.

The court has now given his Government a chance to stand up to the promises he made to people during election.

Though, chance is very little that he will show the exit door to criminal Minister.

But that will expose the prime Minister on the front that he never follows what he actually preaches.

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