Watch- Screening of Candidates for Criminal Record (1999)
SATTA launched a massive campaign against criminalization
of politics. In 1999 elections to the Lok Sabha and A.P.
Legislative Assembly, we put together a team of citizens
with impeccable credentials, comprising of former judges,
jurists, civil servants, police officials, media persons
and activists. Benchmark for determining criminal record
were clearly established, and public participation was sought.
A post box no. 100 was taken up and people were encouraged
to send specific information about candidates without having
to reveal their own identity. Over 2500 responses came.
Information was also collected from media, police and other
sources. After verification, a list of 45 candidates with
criminal record was released by LOK SATTA. It created a
sensation and forced political parties on the defensive.
The list included many prominent legislators, members of
parliament and ministers. The process of screening was so
open, transparent and objective that no party or candidate
dared to question it. The parties only response was that
there were other candidates whose names were not included.
An effective tool was thus created by LOK SATTA to fight
criminalization of politics. This exercise has been continued
in all subsequent elections. The effort had the following
of politics has been arrested, though not reversed. Parties
stopped nominating afresh persons with criminal record.
But established legislators with criminal record continued.
of politics has become a major electoral issue, forcing
parties to respond.
Delhi High Court judgment of Nov. 2000 asking the Election
Commission to collect and disclose to Public, criminal
records of candidates was largely based on LOK SATTA's
documentation in 1999.
AP, a draft bill was prepared by LOK SATTA for curbing
criminalization of local governments. All parties publicly
committed themselves to supporting the Bill.
Commission endorsed LOK SATTA proposal to ban candidature
of those against whom charges have been framed by a magistrate,
and are pending.
the local government elections of 2001, LOK SATTA's campaign
forced a major party to change the candidate for Zilla
Parishad chairmanship on grounds of history of violent
politics, factionalism and criminal record. Though the
party had a clear majority in Zilla Parishad, LOK SATTA
could mount a campaign in just six days and force the
party to change the candidate against the wishes of all
its legislators and ministers in the district. This is
the first time in India's electoral history that civil
society pressure could force a change of candidate at
such a senior level.
SATTA also helped partner organizations in Maharashtra,
Tamilnadu, West Bengal and Orissa launch similar campaigns
in their respective states.