The Supreme Court on Thursday asked political parties to publish details pertaining to criminal candidates contesting on their ticket in an order in the petition filed by lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay and others. The 5-judge bench, headed by Justice Fali S. Nariman, asked parties to put out the data against candidates on social media, their party websites and in newspapers within 48 hours of the candidate being selected to contest polls. Further in 72 hours of such selection, the party concerned has to submit a report to the Election Commission clarifying the reason for the selection of such a candidate. Any failure to comply with these norms will be treated as contempt of court, it said.

In September 2018, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre to enact laws against the participation of candidates with criminal records from contesting elections but had not received a satisfactory response. Ashwini Upadhyay had also filed a petition against the Centre and the Election Commission for not acting on the issue.

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Thursday’s strictures from the Supreme Court come at a time when the Aam Aadmi Party has stormed back to power in Delhi on the shoulder of more MLAs with criminal records in the Delhi Assembly, according to a study by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The ADR report says 61 per cent of the newly-elected Delhi MLAs had criminal records while it was 34 per cent in the 2015 assembly elections. The MLAs had been charged in serious cases including murder, assault, sexual harassment against women, corruption and more. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had the highest number of pending cases with 13 listed against him.

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