Criminalisation of politics was felt in its strongest form during the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts which was the result of a collaboration of a diffused network of criminal gangs, police, customs officials and their political patrons, the Supreme Court said Tuesday.
Referring to the report of the NN Vohra Committee, set up to study the problem of criminalisation of politics, the top court said the panel had referred to several observations made by official agencies, including CBI, IB and RAW, which unanimously expressed the opinion that criminal network was virtually running a parallel government.
It said the committee also took note of the criminal gangs which carried out their activities under the aegis of various political parties and government functionaries.
The apex court referred to the panel's report while holding today that all candidates will have to declare their criminal antecedents to the Election Commission before contesting polls, and termed as "unsettling" the criminalisation of politics in the world's largest democracy.
The top court said the Vohra committee had also expressed great concern that several criminals had been elected to local bodies, State Assemblies and the Parliament over the years.
"Criminalisation of politics was never an unknown phenomenon in the Indian political system, but its presence was seemingly felt in its strongest form during the 1993 Mumbai bomb blasts which was the result of a collaboration of a diffused network of criminal gangs, police and customs officials and their political patrons," said the five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra.
"The tremors of the said attacks shook the entire Nation and as a result of the outcry, a commission was constituted to study the problem of criminalisation of politics and the nexus among criminals, politicians and bureaucrats," said the bench, also comprising Justices RF Nariman, AM Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra.
The report submitted in October 1993 had said: "In the bigger cities, the main source of income relates to real estate - forcibly occupying lands/buildings, procuring such properties at cheap rates by forcing out the existing occupants/tenants etc.
"Over time, the money power thus acquired is used for building up contacts with bureaucrats and politicians and expansion of activities with impunity. The money power is used to develop a network of muscle-power which is also used by the politicians during elections."