Topics Covered: Salient features of the Representation of People’s Act.
‘Convicted legislators can’t be barred for life from polls’:
The Central government has told the Supreme Court that it rejected the idea of barring convicted legislators for life from contesting elections, forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.
What has the Union Ministry of Law and Justice said?
- An elected representative of the people cannot be equated with public servants who are banned for a lifetime on conviction.
- Disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of the prison sentence and six years thereafter was enough for legislators.
Election Commission’s observations:
The Centre’s stand differs from that taken by the Election Commission, which endorsed a life ban as necessary to “champion the cause of decriminalisation of politics”.
The case is based on a plea by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who argued that:
- A life ban on conviction should uniformly apply for members of the judiciary, executive and the legislature.
- There should not be any discrimination of one from the other.
- An MP or MLA convicted for offences enumerated in Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act should be banned for life.
Rationale behind these arguments:
While a public servant or a government employee is debarred for life on conviction for offences under the Indian Penal Code, money laundering law, foreign exchange violation, UAPA or cheque cases, among other laws, a legislator is “only disqualified for the same offences for a specified period”.
- However, the counter view is that legislators are not bound by specific “service conditions”.
- Section 8 of the RP Act.
- SC guidelines in this regard.
- Powers of Election Commission on matters related to election of candidates.
Discuss the concerns associated criminalisation of politics and what the Supreme Court done to address these concerns?
Sources: the Hindu.