In a judgment that brings relief to at least 13 members of Narendra Modi’s Cabinet, the Supreme Court rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking for the disqualification of ministers with criminal cases. As NaMo had stated that he will not tolerate any corruption and criminals in his cabinet, he must without further delay act against his ministers who are facing criminal charges. And the same should also be done with other MPs and MLAs who are facing the criminal charges irrespective of political parties. The apex court, however, left the decision to prevent tainted leaders from occupying executive positions to the political leadership. It is expected that the PM will not appoint persons against whom charges have been framed and those are facing trial. We leave it to the PM and Chief Ministers,” the apex court ruled on the 10-year-old petition that sought the removal of tainted ministers in the then UPA Cabinet.
Court has taken a long time to decide. Justice delayed is justice denied. The court has also left it to the discretion of the PM and CMs to take final decision. This is to ensure that governance doesn’t stop, and there may be wrong convictions, wrong complaints and miscarriages of justice. Some of the civil cases are of a much more serious nature than criminal ones. Financial malpractice is rampant and destroys livelihoods and aspirations of common men. This judgement would soon be forgotten, as in India there is a huge tolerance for corruption and respect for the rich and powerful. It doesn’t matter how they reach to the top. The Constitution empowers the prime minister to make anyone a minister, but a person in conflict with law should not be entrusted with executive responsibilities,” the Supreme Court constitution bench noted. The verdict comes as a relief for the three-month-old Modi Cabinet, which, according to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms, has at least 13 ministers facing criminal charges.
The analysis shows that eight ministers have serious charges including cases related to attempt to murder, inciting communal disharmony, kidnapping and electoral violations. The ADR says 186 (34 per cent) of the 541 MPs in the current Lok Sabha had declared criminal cases, with 98 out of 281 MPs in BJP alone. Uma Bharti, who heads the Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation portfolios, has a case related to attempt to murder registered against her. She is also involved in a case of promoting communal enmity. Another case of illegal payments in connection with an election has also been filed against her. Minister of State for Rural Development, Panchayati Raj, Drinking Water and Sanitation, Upendra Kushwaha, has a bribery case against him. Similarly, BJP’s ally and Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Vilas Paswan, who is the Minister of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution, also has a case of bribery registered against him.
Henceforth, no person with criminal background should be allowed even to contest polls. Such candidates should be eliminated by the EC at the screening level itself. Certain political parties file fake cases against their adversaries or opposite parties. In such cases, the complainants should be punished. It is inevitable to eliminate criminals from the politics and ministries. The 14 ministers with criminal backgrounds should be dropped from the ministry immediately. Even criminals are bestowed with Z category security. One leader with serious criminal charges was given Z category security on Tuesday. It is a waste of tax-payers money. Our political system wants thorough cleansing. SC has mentioned cases involving ‘moral turpitude’. There are criminal cases against Kejriwal and other AAP leaders during agitations, but certainly these does not fall in this category. Out of 426 candidates fielded by BJP in 2014 elections to Lok Sabha, 140 had declared pending criminal cases. Out of BJP’s 281 LS MPs, 98 members have pending criminal cases, 63 of them are charged with serious offences. Not only the 14 ministers but all these MP’s must also be disqualified and sent back home if Modi stands true to his word of providing a clean government. Let BJP prove that it is a ‘Party with a difference’. However, with a person like Amit Shah at the helm of the Party, it is perhaps a distant dream. A total of 25 MLAs, including a maximum of 17 legislators from BJP elected to the 70-member Delhi Assembly have criminal cases against them. The 2013 Delhi polls saw 22 MLAs being re-elected to the assembly. Out of the 22 re-elected members, 15 have criminal cases against their name. The number of MLAs with criminal cases have gone down from 29 in 2008 to 25 this year.
Anyway, Narendra Modi will not drop a single minister from his cabinet those who have criminal cases against them. Modi needs them more than the country hates them.