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Need to check criminalisation of politics, Centre tells Supreme Court

New Delhi, Aug 9: The Centre on Thursday conceded that the stage has come to stop criminalisation of politics by barring persons facing criminal charges from entering the legislatures, but it told the Supreme Court to let Parliament take a call instead of judiciary. Attorney General K.K. Venugopal suggested the constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra to fix a time-limit for three stages after the filing of the charger-sheet: framing of charges, application for discharge and appeal before the High court for quashing the charges.

There is already a penal provision that mandates that the charge-sheet be filed within 90 days of the registration of FIR. Attorney General (AG) was responding to the observation by Chief Justice Misra that it is the demand of the society that Parliament amend the law to check criminalisation of politics.

Besides Chief Justice Misra, the other judges on the bench are Justice Rohinton Fali Narman, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Indu Malhotra. Giving vent to misgivings on the ability of a lawmakers charged with criminal offence to uphold the Constitution and the rule of law, Justice Chandrachud asked as to how a politician charged with murder can uphold the Constitution and the rule of law.

To assuage the apprehension of AG Venugopal on the court embarking on proactive course, Justice Nariman said, “There is a Lakshmanrekha here. We only declare law, legislature makes law.” Referring to the contention of senior counsel Dinesh Dwivedi that at least 34% of the lawmakers in Parliament and the State legislatures face criminal charges and also dispelling the apprehension of the Attorney General, Chief Justice Misra said: “We don’t want to legislate on the subject, we want Parliament to do it.” Dwivedi appeared for the petitioner NGO Public Interest Foundation. “It is a serious issue. We have to remind Parliament that it has constitutional obligation to amend Article 102 (e). We say this as conscience keeper of the Constitution”, CJI Misra told the Attorney General Venugopal. (IANS)