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Lawyers, Politicians Will be in the Same Boat When They Choose to Run for Respective Offices

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra found force in the argument that if politicians are supposed to reveal pending criminal cases against them when they fight polls, lawyers should also follow the suit when they run for bar elections.

Utkarsh Anand | News18.com

Updated:February 21, 2018, 1:39 PM IST
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Lawyers, Politicians Will be in the Same Boat When They Choose to Run for Respective Offices
Representative image.
New Delhi: In an extraordinary order, the Supreme Court on Wednesday made it mandatory for the lawyers to disclose their criminal antecedents during the ensuing elections to the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry (BCTNP).

A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra found force in the argument that if politicians are supposed to reveal pending criminal cases against them when they fight polls, lawyers should also follow the suit when they run for bar elections.

"Candidiates shall disclose their criminal antecedents in the nomination form meant for the election," directed the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

The Court was of the opinion that although no generic direction can be issued for disqualifying candidates on the ground of having criminal antecedents, there appeared to be valid reasons to ask them to disclose what are the cases pending against them.

"If there are 27 criminal cases against a person, why should he be not asked to declare it in the nomination form? Voters should know," said the bench.

The apex court was hearing an appeal against the order of the Madras High Court, which had directed Income Tax (I-T) department to form special squads to keep a check on alleged distribution of money to lawyers during the ensuing elections.

Acting on a PIL, the HC also permitted the squads to raid any place, including court campuses across the state, to prevent stashing of money by the candidates and their supporters.

The Supreme Court found fault with the high court order, and stayed all further proceedings in this case but made it mandatory for the lawyers to disclose their criminal antecedents.

An argument was also made in the Court to check such lawyers who are only in the profession for their political pursuits and do not appear in cases at all.

"We also are aware of the ground realities but we cannot go into this right now. Whatever we have said is good for now," retorted the bench, disposing of the matter.

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