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  India   All India  25 Sep 2018  SC verdict on undertrials contesting elections today

SC verdict on undertrials contesting elections today

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Sep 25, 2018, 6:00 am IST
Updated : Sep 25, 2018, 6:00 am IST

The petitioners had argued that there must be a stage prior to the conviction when a candidate should face disqualification.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI/File)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: PTI/File)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will pronounce its verdict on Tuesday on whether a person facing a criminal case in a heinous crime can be disqualified from contesting Assembly or Parliamentary elections at the stage of filing a chargesheet or framing of charges or only after conviction.

A five-judge Constitution bench comprising the Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices Rohinton Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra will give the verdict indicating the scope of intervention by the judiciary.

The Centre had urged the court to restrain from passing any order to add a new qualification/disqualification, which has not been provided either under the Constitution or in the Representation of the People Act.

The Centre had said that despite noble intentions of the court, there cannot be a judicial order to either restrain persons from contesting elections prior to their conviction or to direct political parties not to field such candidates. It said that the laws already provided for when and how a person can be debarred from contesting polls and that it was not for the courts to lay down new norms.

On the petitioners’ suggestion that the court could issue a direction to political parties against putting up candidates who have charges framed und-er serious offences such as rape, murder and corruption, the Centre had said that the intentions are very noble, but it is not for the courts to add a new qualification/disqualification. The court will be doing violence to the Representation of People Act and the freedom of a political party in a democratic set-up.

During the arguments, the court had indicated that it would consider giving a fiat to the Election Commission to mention in the symbols order that the charge-sheeted candidate fielded by the party would lose the registered symbol and that he could contest only under a free symbol. The Centre had argued that this would mean a new disqualification.

The petitioners had argued that there must be a stage prior to the conviction when a candidate should face disqualification. A person who has been charged with heinous offences after a prima facie case is found against him by a judicial order should be debarred from contesting polls to ensure the purity of the electoral process and de-criminalisation of politics.

It was submitted that to protect democracy and the institution of the legislature, the court should issue a direction to the Centre and the EC to take necessary steps to debar persons convicted in criminal cases from contesting elections, forming a political party and becoming office-bearers of any party.

It was argued that lifetime ban was necessary for convicted lawmakers so that they did not enter electoral politics for life and is necessary to curb corruption and criminalisation, the greatest menace to our democracy and development.

Tags: supreme court, parliamentary elections, election commission
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi