New Delhi, Jan 21 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking a direction to the Election Commission to restrain political parties from fielding candidates with criminal antecedents in polls. Also Read - West Bengal Election 2021: Mamata Banerjee Stages Dharna in Kolkata to Protest EC's 24-Hour Campaign Ban

A bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, however, allowed BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, who is the petitioner, to give a representation to the poll panel in this regard. Also Read - Supreme Court Slaps Rs 50,000 Fine on Waseem Rizvi For Plea Seeking Removal of 26 Verses From Quran

“We are not inclined to entertain this petition. However, it will be open to the petitioner to approach the Election Commission by giving a representation,” the bench, which also comprised Justice Sanjiv Khanna, said. Also Read - Supreme Court Reverts to Virtual Hearings After 50% Staff Test COVID Positive

Upadhyay, in his plea, had sought a direction to the poll panel “to restrict political parties to setup candidates with criminal antecedents in serious offences”.

The plea said the cause of action had arisen on October 10, 2018 when the EC, while issuing notification for assembly elections in five states, did not amend the Election Symbol Order 1968 and the Model Code of Conduct to restrict political parties from fielding candidates with criminal records.

“Criminalisation of politics in India has only grown. Data published by the Association for Democratic Reforms shows that 24 per cent members of Parliament have criminal cases pending against them….

“Out of 7,810 candidates analyzed for the 2009 elections to Lok Sabha, 1,158 or 15 per cent declared criminal cases of which 610 or 8 per cent had serious cases. Out of 8,163 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections in 2014, 1398 or 17 per cent declared criminal cases of which 889 or 11 per cent had serious cases,” the plea said.

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.