The Supreme Court on Friday sought the responses of the government and the Election Commission on a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking to restrain convicted politicians from running and holding posts in political parties.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud agreed to examine the validity and contours of Section 29A in the Representation of the People Act, 1951. Registration of associations and bodies as political parties with the Election Commission are dealt under this section.
Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who has filed the PIL on the issue, said convicted politicians are barred under the law from contesting elections but they can still run a political party and hold posts in them, besides deciding as to who will become a lawmaker.
The plea has sought directions to the Centre and the Election Commission of India to frame guidelines to decriminalise the electoral system and ensure inner-party democracy as proposed by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC).
The petition has named several top political leaders who have been convicted or have charges framed against them and were holding the highest political posts and “wielding political power.” It claimed that now even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, loot, sedition, or dacoity can form a political party and become its president.
It also said that proliferation of political parties has become a major concern as Section 29A of the Act allows a small group of people to form a party by making a very simple declaration.