2 September 2014.
A five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice R M Lodha advised the Prime Minister and Chief Ministers not to appoint people to public office, against whom charges have been filed in criminal or corruption cases.
According to the Association of Democratic Reforms, at least a dozen ministers in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet have been mentioned in criminal cases. About 34 per cent of the current Lok Sabha members have criminal cases pending against them, including 21 per cent who face serious charges like murder, kidnapping and sexual assault.
The court said that a clean cabinet is a ‘constitutional expectation’ and tainted people “thwart the principle of good governance” and destroy the trust reposed by the Constitution in the highest executive. “We are saying nothing more, nothing less and it is left on the wisdom of the PM to decide,” the bench said, adding this is also applicable to CMs.
The Prime Minister, the Court said, while living up to the trust reposed in him, would consider not choosing a person with criminal record to become a member of the cabinet. “This is what the Constitution suggests and that is the constitutional expectation from the Prime Minister. Rest has to be left to the wisdom of the Prime Minister. We say nothing more, nothing less,” the bench said.