The Supreme Court today said it could not dismiss ministers with criminal cases against them and would have to leave the decision on the "Prime Minister's wisdom" and it was the prerogative of the prime minister and chief ministers to do so.
It said, the prime minister and the chief ministers should not include people with criminal antecedents in their cabinet. Those in conflict with law and involved in offenses of moral turpitude and corruption should not be allowed to discharge duty as ministers.
It added, that as a trusty of the Constitution, it is the prime minister who is expected not to appoint unwarranted persons as ministers. The judges said, the Constitution reposes immense trust in PM and CMs and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality.
Petitioner Rakesh Dwivedi said, “The Supreme Court says that the framers of the constitution have reposed great public trust and responsibility on these high dignitaries in discharging of these responsibilities and they must ensure that democratic principles should be kept in view.”
“They should not appoint any such person who is undergoing a serious criminal charge and is being tried in the courts for that will be against the principles of democracy which will be contrary to the discharge of public trust and will also be against public morality,” he added.
The case was being heard by a Constitution bench of five senior judges headed by Chief Justice of India RM Lodha.
According to media reports Narendra Modi's cabinet has 14 ministers with criminal cases against them. According to certain estimates, more than 30% of the ministers in the present government have a criminal background.
The case dates back to 2004 where a petitioner wanted four ministers, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mohammed Taslimuddin, MAA Fatmi and Jai Prakash Yadav, with criminal pasts to be removed. The court had dismissed the appeal and later, it was taken up for review by the five judges.
(With agency inputs)