Voting at the elections is not a fundamental right for Indians. If you more than 18 years of age no one can stop you from voting as a citizen of India. In fact, voting is a way of avowing your Indian identity. You can be a voter as well as an eventual diplomat of the voters at the same time. This dual voter- voted to power entity of the Indian citizen is full of obtrusive and degenerative propensity and inconsistency.
One needs to be an active politician to contest election. In recent years, politicians and elected representatives have been acting in ways that are at conflict with and volatile of the rights of citizens. The politician is mistreating his discretionary position and power for his personal profit.
This brazen hunt of power and riches at the public's cost is converse to the aims and goals of democratic polity. The main duty of elected representative is to serve the people and to solve the problems of the citizens in legal way. People elected to state legislatures.
Parliament enjoys massive blow over administration, government departments, development projects, foreign relations and other affairs of the state. But when an elected representative of the people begins to promote his own self-interest, the people and the country suffer losses and delay.
Development of the country and society gets unobserved. When lawmakers become law-breakers, then who will stop the crime? Indian politics is contaminated with criminals and their minder, irrespective their political relationship. Independent legislators and Member of Parliament are also partners in cheating and swindle the ordinary citizen and the nation at large.
In the earlier context, it has become important that the voter knows some vital facts about the politician who wishes to contest an election and seek citizen's vote. The Election Commission thought it only fit and fair that the contesting candidate file an affirmation giving information about his income, wealth and personal conduct in relation to the law.
The candidate who is contesting therefore, required filing an affirmation clearly stating if he had ever been found guilty or has any criminal cases pending against him or if he had outstanding dues of public utilities against him. But this requirement got much thinned as a result of members of parliament passing legislation according to which only odious misdeed would be required to be filed before the Election Commission.
Filing of even such affirmation would easily escape public attention because these confirmations will be with the Election Office who may choose not to reveal their contents to a voter seeking such information. Voter will also be required to spend much time and money to gather such items of information from the Election Commission. The Supreme Court's involvement, therefore, came as more than a relief.
In the Democratic Reforms Case-II the Court refurbishes the voter's right to know and smack down Parliament's power to deny information on candidates standing for elections. The Politician, thus, was defeated in the Supreme Court against the Voter. But this defeat is more symbolic, less real. The battle against criminal politicians and criminalization of politics has hardly begun.
Criminals have been entering politics in increasing numbers. Vohra Committee established nexus between the criminal and government at all levels, from the highest to the lowest. Politician is the most powerful link in this chain of criminality. According to a survey, there were 40 Members of Parliament and 700 MLA's who had serious criminal cases pending against them.
The Constitution Review Commission and the Law Commission suggested barring politicians with record of charge sheets against them from contesting election. The Supreme Court can only interpret laws or cancel wrong laws that go contrary to the Constitution; it cannot pass new laws. Muscle and money power are the most dominant factors for success in elections and public life.
Rich and wealthy men, industrialists, businessmen, politicians do not pay their electricity, public hotel/residential, telephone bills because these affluent people want to grip every drop of blood from the poor Indian nation. They become rich by communal agreement. They have high venture in increasing the Indian political and administrative systems corrupt.
The Delhi High Court has directed the Election Commission to publish in the local and national dailies the amounts of outstanding arrears pending against members of parliament. Supreme Court in 1975 decision clubbed the party and its candidate's expenses for the purpose of election expenditure accounting. The politicians responded to this challenge by amending section 77 of the Representation of the Peoples' Act.
The Party expenditure remains free of limitation though the individual candidate has to spend on his election within the prescribed limits. As a result, election time is the occasion to amass political funds at the party and individual levels.
The Supreme Court has vulnerably noted that under the present laws, smugglers, criminals, disruptive elements can spend any amount of money to enter politics. Will the information on candidates' educational qualifications, sources of their money and assets, their liabilities to public resources lead to cleaner elections and better crop of members of parliament in the coming years?
It is said that a nation gets the representative government it deserves. The Society gets the State it wants. In many ways, the Indian politician is a sharper, hence a more horrendous, reflection of the voter himself. Ordinary citizen today has lost all sense of collective interest, concern and responsibility.
He is immersed in the pursuit of easy success, easy money, and easy life and is willing to sacrifice the interests of the community for personal gains. He is even ready to bribe the gods who seem to be pleased as is proved by increased visitors assemble to places of worships with offerings for return of astronomically larger gains in return of their offerings.
The whole society appears to have gone mentally wrong. There may be a few exceptions that suffer and feel miserable in the general suffocation caused by principled asphyxiation. Those who cannot act criminally and illegally are either weak or devoid of a chance of being corrupt. Judges, lawyers, teachers, doctors, businessmen, and ordinary citizens are becoming increasingly corrupt, dishonest and insincere. They say one thing, do quite another.
No change of laws, not Supreme Court judgments can pronounce the voter triumphant. Because, the proposition Voter Versus Politician itself is misconceived and ambiguous. Revival of values is hard to imagine and elections 2004 promise no such thing. Every new movement, every new institution created to stem and develops to vested interests in the corrupted system.
The NGO's and Human Rights Commission are in the same mould as the rest of Indian society and the state. Great commotion witnessed in other countries can possibly visit India. Conditions are ripe for it but smugness is equally invasive to keep a revolution, which by now is an old-fashioned and failed alternative, off limits.
The law as pronounced by the Supreme Court does empower: the citizen to know about the candidates and not to vote for the known criminals, violators of law and betrayers of the public trust. The voter will feel more confident to imitate the ways of the representative politician and break laws with impunity.
To his or her own scruples, to the community, society and public at large, the voter will be able to say loudly: "I am as corrupt as my representative". The Voter and the Politician, in the present state of Indian democracy are not eroded against each other. They are sharper and diffused images of the same corrupt citizen.