Two days after the Cabinet passed an ordinance allowing convicted and jailed MPs and MLAs to contest elections, it has been revealed that, since 2008, merely 24 out of 4,807 MPs and MLAs have declared in their affidavits of ever being convicted in a court of law.
1,460 or 30 per cent of the MPs and MLAs have declared criminal cases against them of which 688 or 14 per cent have declared serious criminal cases.
“Overall, during the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections since 2008, out of the 47,389 analysed candidates who contested the elections, a total of 8,041 (17%) have declared criminal cases against them of which 3,759 (8%) have declared serious criminal cases,” states an analysis done by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
An analysis of the convictions of candidates states that, out of the total 47,389 analysed contesting candidates who have contested various elections since 2008, only 155 (0.3%) candidates have declared in their affidavits that they have been convicted at some point in a court of law.
The analysis also states that the obvious reason for the low rate of convictions can be attributed to the excruciatingly slow pace at which the hearings of cases are proceeded in courts. It is also possible that a candidate contesting an election may be refraining from declaring conviction in his or her affidavit once an appeal in a higher court is admitted challenging the conviction.
In such a case, the candidate may merely mention that an appeal is pending in a court and may not declare the conviction in the appropriate section of the affidavit. It is also possible that candidates may be suppressing or hiding the conviction altogether because as of now there is no reliable mechanism in place to scrutinise these affidavits, states the analysis.
The ordinance cleared by the Cabinet allowing convicted and jailed MPs and MLAs to contest elections is a reversal of the Supreme Court judgment which disqualified MPs and MLAs convicted with a sentence of more than two years from contesting elections.
The ordinance will also allow convicted legislators to continue in office, if the appeal against the conviction is admitted by a higher court within 90 days.
The ordinance says that if a lawmaker appeals his conviction or the sentence is stayed by a higher court, he can attend Parliament or state Assemblies, but cannot draw salaries or vote.