Apex court: Debar persons with

Government awaits a word from the apex court on its review petitions against disqualifying sitting MPs and MLAs once they are jailed or convicted.

Written by Utkarsh Anand | New Delhi | Published: August 20, 2013 2:16 am

Emphasising on “purity in the electoral process”,the Supreme Court Monday asked the Centre to consider debarring the persons charged with serious offences like rape and murder from contesting election,as a measure to help decriminalisation of politics.

“You (Centre) should ensure criminals don’t enter legislative bodies. It is not for every charge under the Indian Penal Code that a candidate has to be debarred from contesting election. You can identify categories of heinous offences like rape,murder etc,” said a Bench of Justices R M Lodha and Madan B Lokur.

Even as the government awaits a word from the apex court on its review petitions against disqualifying sitting MPs and MLAs once they are jailed or convicted,the court Monday expressed its displeasure at its reluctance to take a stand on prohibiting those charged with grave offences from contesting elections.

“Why should you (Centre) not help in achieving the objective of purity in election. We think something (on decriminalisation of politics) can be done. It is not as if nothing can be done by you. Where there is a will,there is a way. You have to have a will,” said the Bench as it heard a PIL by NGO ‘Public Interest Foundation.’

The court pointed out that the Election Commission and the Law Commission,in its 170th report,had preferred keeping such accused persons out of the electoral process and hence it was high time the government makes it stand clear on the issue.

The court also referred to its July 10 verdicts,quashing a provision in the Representation of the People Act and prohibiting those jailed and convicted from contesting the election. The Bench said with the kind of “acrimony between the political parties at the time of election”,certain safeguard would be required before a person’s statutory right is closed. While the court regretted the “tardy and slow” legal process,counsel for the NGO and Election Commission asserted that they had suggested adequate checks to ensure nobody’s right is unduly affected and it was now for the government to put forth its view.

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