Text size:

  • Small
  • Normal
  • Large

Indian court bans crooks from politics

Ruling hailed a huge step for nation in which more than 1500 politicians face charges.

NEW DELHI // India's top court ruled yesterday that politicians should be thrown out of office if they are convicted of a serious crime, in a judgement that was hailed as a major step towards cleaning up the political system.

The Supreme Court said state and federal lawmakers would be forced to quit politics and barred for life from standing in elections if found guilty of a crime that carries a sentence of at least two years in jail.

"If a person has no right to vote [if convicted of a crime], he has no right to contest," Judges AK Patnaik and SJ Mukhopadhyay ruled.

About 160 politicians from various parties in the national lower house of parliament are facing a range of criminal charges, along with more than 1,400 politicians from state legislatures, according to campaign group the Association for Democratic Reforms.

"This is a milestone for Indian politics," said Anil Bairwal, the association's national coordinator. "If you are convicted of a crime from now on, you don't have the right to be in politics.

"It's a significant step towards cleaning up politics."

The ruling comes as the government of the prime minister, Manmohan Singh, has been rocked by a series of graft scandals involving mobile-phone licences, coalfields and the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi, among other issues.

Millions of people took to the streets last year to protest against the scandals amid seething anger at endemic corruption in politics and across the wider public sector.

The ruling could have a big impact on of state and national elections next year, Mr Bairwal said.

The court ruled that politicians convicted of a crime could no longer remain in office pending an appeal, a process that can take years in India's notoriously slow and backlogged legal system.

Their disqualification "takes place from the date of conviction", the judges said. The ruling only applies to convictions from now on.

The ruling followed a petition from several activists.

Politicians currently face a range of criminal charges, ranging from rape to kidnapping and corruption, according to the association.

Back to the top

More articles

Editor's Picks

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greeted by university students as he leaves Sistan University in Sistan and Baluchestan’s provincial capital of Zahedan on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

In Iran’s most troubled province, Rouhani hears pleas for change

Hassan Rounani aims to connect with residents of far-flung Sistan and Baluchestan province.

 Prince Bandar bin Sultan in Riyadh on March 3, 2007. Hassan Ammar / AFP Photo

Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver

Saudi Arabia's controversial intelligence chief stepped down this week after rumours that his policies on Syria had fallen out of favour.

 Iranian President Hassan Rouhani greets supporters after his arrival in Zahedan, the regional capital of Sistan and Baluchestan province on Tuesday, April 15, 2014. During Mr Rouhani's two-day visit, he will tour several other cities and hold meetings with local scholars and entrepreneurs. Maryam Rahmanian for The National

On the road with Hassan Rouhani

Iran's president is touring some of Iran's most underdeveloped provinces. Foreign correspondent Yeganeh Salehi is traveling with him.

 Twitter photo of  Abdel Fattah El Sisi on the campaign trail on March 30. Photo courtesy-Twitter/@SisiCampaign

El Sisi rides a bicycle, kicks off social media storm

The photos and video created a huge buzz across social media networks, possibly a marker of a new era for Egypt.

 Friday is UN Mine Awareness Day and Omer Hassan, who does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan, is doing all he can to teach people about the dangers posed by landmines. Louise Redvers for The National

A landmine nearly ended Omer’s life but he now works to end the threat of mines in Iraq

Omer Hassan does demining work in Iraqi Kurdistan and only has to show people his mangled leg to underscore the danger of mines. With the world marking UN Mine Awareness Day on Friday, his work is as important as ever as Iraq is one of the most mine-affected countries in the world.

 Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Turkish spiritual leader Fethullah Gulen. AFP Photo

The inner workings of Gulen’s ‘parallel state’

Fethullah Gulen's followers are accused of trying to push Turkey's prime minister from power.


To add your event to The National listings, click here

Get the most from The National