The Supreme Court Tuesday held that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting an election, saying criminalisation of politics of the largest democracy is "unsettling". A five-judge Constitution bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said that citizens have a right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates. In the unanimous verdict, the bench, also comprising Justices R F Nariman, A M Khanwilkar, D Y Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra, said that political parties are obligated to put all the information about their candidates on their websites. It asked the legislature to consider framing a law to ensure decriminalisation of politics. The bench said that informed choice is the corner stone of democracy and termed criminalisation of politics of the largest democracy as "unsettling".
The apex court favoured wider publicity, through print and electronic media about the antecedents of candidates affiliated to political parties. The verdict was pronounced on a batch of pleas raising a question whether lawmakers facing criminal trial can be disqualified from contesting elections at the stage of framing of charges against them. The status before the filing of these petitions was that lawmakers were barred under the Representation of Peoples (RP) Act from contesting elections only after their conviction in a criminal case. The verdict was reserved on August 28.