The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging an amendment in Representation of People Act that permitted those confined in jail before conviction to contest elections.
“If there is conviction and sentence, we can understand but the registration of an FIR and confinement is not sufficient to bar a person from contesting election,” said a bench headed by Chief Justice of India H L Dattu said.
The bench refused to entertain an appeal filed against Delhi High Court’s order passed on February 6 by which it had upheld the constitutional validity of the amendment. The High Court had observed that not allowing an arrested accused or an undertrial to contest election on the ground that he has no right to vote while incarcerated “would leave the door open for vendetta politics”.
“Extending curtailment of the right to vote of a person in prison to the right to stand in election would, in our opinion, leave the door open for practice of ‘vendetta politics’ by ruling parties. All that a politician/ruling party-in-power would need to do to prevent rivals from contesting an election is to ask the police to file a case and to arrest the rivals,” it had said.
The court had in last year ruled under the existing law that a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest election to legislative bodies.