“There should be Life Term Ban on convicted Parliamentarians, MLAs From Contesting Elections”, Says Election Commission in SC

“There should be Life Term Ban on convicted Parliamentarians, MLAs From Contesting Elections”, Says Election Commission in SC

“There should be Life Term Ban on convicted Parliamentarians, MLAs From Contesting Elections”, Says Election Commission in SC
November 02
12:04 2017

by Melissa

On Tuesday, the Supreme Court sought to know the rate of conviction of politicians in criminal cases and asked whether its direction to complete trial against them within a year was being effectively implemented.
The apex court said that data about the conviction rate of politicians in criminal cases would open up a “new dimension” and sought to know whether it would act as a “deterrent” if the trial against lawmakers is completed in a year.

“We would also like to know what the rate of conviction is. That will throw open a new dimension. We will see that criminal cases against politicians, if it does not end in conviction, then why? What are the reasons for it,” a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha said. The bench also sought the details of criminal cases lodged against politicians from 2014 till date as well as on the disposal of these matters.

The top court made these observations while hearing petitions seeking to declare the provisions of the Representation of People (RP) Act, which has barred convicted politicians from contesting elections for six years after serving jail term, as ultra-vires to the Constitution
The bench directed the Centre to place before it the scheme for setting up of such special courts and also indicate the amount of funds that could be earmarked for the purpose. The apex court asked the government to place these details before it within six weeks and fix the matter for hearing on December 13..

The ECI supported the plea seeking life ban on politicians convicted in criminal cases and said they have already made recommendations on this to the Centre. The apex court ,on July 12, had pulled up the ECI for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking barring of convicted politicians for life.
The Centre, in its affidavit, had said that the prayer sought by the petitioner seeking life-time bar on convicted lawmakers was not maintainable and the plea should be thus dismissed.

The Supreme Court today directed the Centre to place before it details regarding 1,581 cases involving MPs and MLAs, as declared by politicians at the time of filing their nominations during the 2014 general elections. The apex court asked the government to appraise it as to how many of these 1,581 cases have been disposed of within one year and how many have ended either in conviction or acquittal of the accused.

The bench observed that a direction was earlier passed by the top court that trial against politicians should be completed within a year and wanted to know how effectively that order was being implemented. The court also asked what would happen to a judge when charges were framed against him or an FIR was lodged. To this, the counsel said “the court has laid down, such a high and rigorous standards for judges. If this is the position in case of judges, why can’t the same be there in case of politicians”.

The lawyer argued that if a lawmaker was convicted by a court of law, he should be permanently barred from politics. Advocate Ashwini Kumar Updhyay has filed a PIL in the matter, while several others have come to the apex court as interveners.

The EC wants all candidates facing court-framed charges, who on conviction would carry a sentence of more than five years, to be debarred from contesting elections. “Convictions,” says a source in the EC, “should no longer be necessary for debarring. We want disqualification of court-charged candidates before they are given a ticket to contest.”
Lacking constitutional authority, the EC cannot force change on the government without the Supreme Court’s decisive intervention.
The Election Commission (EC) recently decided that enough was enough. After years of prevarication it has finally given notice to the government to “immediately debar from contesting elections of the convicted persons as well as those against whom charges of heinous crimes have been framed by a court of law.”

Till today, no National Party in the centre took pains to stop the candidates for contesting the polls who were convicted and in all likelihood they might not do in the future also. The main reason for this is existence of convicted politicians in all parties, either it is a Regional or National.
On Wednesday the Supreme Court ordered that the disqualification of an MP or MLA will come into effect immediately after the representative is convicted by any court. The Judgment has struck down a section of Representation of People Act that allows a convicted public representative to remain in office while there are cases pending against him.

However, the court said this order will not have a retrospective effect and hence those who have filed appeals in cases pending against them will not be affected.
“The representative cannot contest elections again and a representative cannot cast his vote from jail, under any circumstances”, a bench of justices A K Patnaik and S J Mukhopadhaya said.
The order is likely to have large repercussions among almost all political parties in the country.

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