National Politics

28 Ministers In Modi 3.0 Cabinet Face Criminal Cases: ADR Report

As Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s new council of ministers took oath this week, concerns have been raised over the criminal backgrounds of some of the newly appointed union cabinet members. According to data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-partisan election watchdog, at least 28 out of the 71 ministers in Modi’s third term have declared criminal cases against them.

The revelations have sparked criticism from opposition parties and governance experts, who argue that individuals facing serious criminal charges should not be handed important ministerial portfolios until they are cleared of wrongdoing.

Among those facing the most severe allegations are Shantanu Thakur, Minister of State for Ports, Shipping and Waterways, and Sukanta Majumdar, Minister of State for Education, who have both declared attempted murder cases against them under Section 307 of the Indian Penal Code.

Five ministers, including Bandi Sanjay Kumar (MoS Home Affairs), Thakur, Majumdar, Suresh Gopi (MoS Tourism), and Jual Oram (Tribal Affairs) face accusations related to crimes against women.

The ADR report also flags eight ministers who have ongoing cases of hate speech and controversial remarks. This includes senior BJP leaders like Giriraj Singh (Rural Development), Arjun Ram Meghwal (Parliamentary Affairs), and V Muraleedharan (Parliamentary Affairs).

Of the major parties, the BJP accounts for the highest proportion, with 9 out of its 24 cabinet representatives having declared criminal cases. This includes Home Minister Amit Shah, who faces three cases, and Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, who tops the list with 10 criminal cases.

While having a criminal case is not a disqualification for becoming a minister under current laws, legal experts have argued that moral standards should be higher for those tasked with upholding the law and governing the nation. With public faith in elected representatives already low, the appointment of tainted ministers could further erode trust in democratic institutions.

The ADR report revealed that of the 543 newly elected Lok Sabha MPs, a staggering 251 (46%) have criminal cases against them, with 27 having already been convicted. Whether this criminalization of politics will be a focus area for reform in Modi’s second term remains to be seen.

ADR data from May 2024 on percentage of candidates with declared criminal cases.
Credit: Association for Democratic Reforms

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