[JURIST] An Indian court on Monday convicted Lalu Prasad Yadav, a former federal minister of India's state of Bihar and current MP, of corruption, criminal conspiracy and cheating. Yadav and 44 others were found guilty [AFP report] of conspiracy and cheating over a scam in the mid 1990s that siphoned USD $6 million of public money. The conviction renders Yadav one of the first politicians to fall under a July Supreme Court ruling which would disqualify him from office [JURIST report] if found guilty of a serious crime. He could face a minimum of four years in jail. Yadav denies the charges and plans to appeal. A Congress MP, Rashid Masood, may also be disqualified after being convicted in a separate corruption case earlier this month.
Corruption remains a serious issue in India. In July, the Supreme Court of India [official website] ruled that elected representatives convicted of serious crimes must vacate their positions immediately and be disqualified from future elections. Last year JURIST Columnist Edsel Tupaz and Guest Columnist Joan Martinez argued that the stalled anti-corruption legislation [JURIST report] before the Indian Parliament should do more to fight corruption [JURIST op-ed], particularly by creating a more powerful ombudsman position to hold government officials accountable. According to the authors, "India's Parliament must make sure that its proposed ombudsman will wield strong, concrete and independent powers beyond nominal authority."