The latest judgment of Supreme Court asking the Prime Minister to use his discretion in appointing tainted MPs in their cabinet is a landmark judgment in more ways than one.
This is not the first time that courts have intervened to check the increasing criminalisation of politics in the country. Such judgments have been coming from the highest court since 1996 onwards.In fact the courts have been responsible for many investigations that have affected the public good and have tended to help in spreading awareness among the people.
What is remarkable about the latest judgment is its tone. As against the scathing criticism and language used against the ruling regime this one has raised a moral question but stopped short of direct intervention.
The order by the five-member Bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice India R M Lodha gave its order on a PIL challenging the inclusion of at least 13 MPs in the Modi cabinet against whom there are serious cases in various courts.
While staying its hand in giving an order for disqualifying these Ministers under Article 75 (1) which did not permit such action the Bench stated in explicit terms that the head of the executive the Prime Minister and the Chief Ministers in States were trustees of the Constitution, it was their Constitutional duty to ensure that those in “conflict with law and involved in offences of moral turpitude and corruption should not be allowed to discharge duty as ministers”.
Despite the fact that the election in 2014 was fought against a background of serious charges of corruption and scams leveled against the UPA II it is an irony that the percentage of MPs with criminal charges in the 16 th Lok Sabha went up to 34 % from 30 % in 2009 and 24 % in 2004.
It is n this contest that the judgment of the Supreme Court comes as a breath of fresh air. Instead of blaming any one directly for this state of affairs it puts the onus of rectifying the situation on the Prime Minister as part of his duty to defend the Constitution.
Political parties may play the blame game by trying take the moral high ground after this judgment but the public knows that not a single political party in the country is without such elements.
The least the leaders can do is to keep them away from ministerial berths so that the damage they can do is minimized. That is what the SC Bench order wants to ensure.
By: Amitabh Srivastava
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