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Supreme Court's verdict on tainted ministers requires more clear guidelines!
On 27th August 2014, a Constitution bench headed by CJI R.M. Lodha while hearing a PIL clearly said that no instructions can be given to Prime Minister to remove tainted ministers from their cabinet as Constitution vested the power of appointing ministers with the PM. The same thing was observed in the case of CMs also that it's their prerogative.

However the apex court suggested that the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers should be careful enough that no tainted person should get appointed in their cabinet, particularly those with grievous criminal charges against them in the wake of public aspiration and Constitution maker's spirit.

After this verdict there came two types of opinions. One school of thought opined that Prime Minister Modi is now under tremendous pressure to remove the alleged 12 ministers out of which eight were with severe criminal charges. The other opinion was that this is breather for Narendra Modi as the onus is on him and he can't be forced to oust some of his colleagues.

Now the question is whether the court's opinion has any impact. Clearly speaking it would have no impact. It's not only BJP but all political parties would hide behind the excuse that the criminal cases against their leaders were politically motivated. The Congress is blaming BJP government for including tainted ministers but the party remains on defending front with respect to various tainted ministers in the Congress ruled states while citing the cases were on political vendetta.

There is a compulsion too. For example, although Narendra Modi is enjoying popular support, but his existence as Prime Minister depends upon the support of the elected BJP MPs. He has to maintain a delicate balance in different fractions of the party to keep himself acceptable to all.

Thus in this process he has to compromise at some point in accommodating various leaders in to his council of ministers. Already he enforced a rule of no ministry berth to 75 plus MPs. This was achieved with support of core team and RSS. But everything can't be necessarily supported by all.

It's not only the case of BJP. Let's take the case of Ashok Chavan of the Congress. If Congress sticks that it won't give election ticket to tainted leaders, then Ashok Chavan wouldn't get the ticket and thus the Congress would be less by one seat. Ashok Chavan, despite having corruption charges against him, has the capacity to win the Nanded seat. In politics numbers matter and hence political parties have no option at all!

Are the cases made against politicians with political vendetta? This is an open secret that ruling parties in the states often save their party members and book opposite party members with grievous charges. Let me take the case of UP MP Sangeet Som. Let me put it on record that I don't hold any brief for Som and according to me he is accused of serious allegations and should be barred from contesting the election.

In Muzaffarnagar riots, the victim minority community alleged that the ruling SP was also equally involved in the riots. They even alleged SP minister Azam Khan's role in it. But the SP government booked only BJP accused. That means it intentionally saved its party men from serious charges. Thus it can be argued that if a government saves its party men from serious charges using its influence, it can equally book opponents in serious charges mis-utilizing government machineries! That logic gives advantage to Sangeet Som and many as the victim of political vendetta.

Now the question is how the polity can be decriminalized. Putting onus on Prime Ministers and Chief Ministers wouldn't help as the morality would be defined differently suiting to their interest. Supreme Court had already outlined the disqualification method at first conviction for which Lalu Yadav and others have now became disqualified even to contest the elections.

But how to stop severely charged MPs being Ministers? The Constitution says when one can be a MP or MLA, it can be a Minister too provided PM or CM choose him. Thus putting onus on PM and CMs is not going to help.

It can be sorted out by fast tracking all the criminal cases against politicians. But can it be done practically? Even the current SC opinion came after ten years of hearing a PIL! Thus till the establishment of faster justice delivery, how the tainted politicians could be barred to hold Constitutional offices? Should mere allegation or cases running for years hold someone from being minister?

If yes, what about the charges inspired by political vendetta? Wouldn't it make all ruling parties in various states to register false criminal charges against their rival and competitors? Wouldn't it finally lead to chaos?

The solution lies again in fixing a time frame. One against whom the court has framed charges on serious offences should remain ineligible for holding the office for a period of 3-5 years from the date of framing of charge. This could help the political parties, the PM as well as the CMs. They can cite the clear definition of ineligibility to stop a tainted person from to be minister. Also because of fixed time limit, one wouldn't face injustice due to delay of judicial procedure.

Who is to fix these eligibility criteria? It's none other than SC again as political parties would never be in agreement on such things. They can blame each other but none would support if such bill comes to the floor of Parliament! Will the SC consider fixing eligibility criteria, the way it fixed disqualification criteria?

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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