The Election Commission has reduced Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s period of disqualification by almost five years, making him eligible to contest elections.
Tamang was found guilty of misappropriating government funds in a cow distribution scheme while he was Animal Husbandry Minister in the 1990s. The disqualification period began on August 10, 2018 — the day he completed a year’s jail term in the case. It was to end on August 10, 2024, but following the EC ruling, Tamang’s period of disqualification ended on September 10. He filed his papers for the Poklok-Kamrang Assembly bye-lection on Monday, the last day of nominations.
After becoming chief minister in April, Tamang was required to win an Assembly seat in six months. He had asked the EC for a waiver of his disqualification under Section 11 of The Representation of the People Act, 1951. Tamang is now widely expected to win the election and remain Chief Minister.
Under Chapter III of the said Act, conviction for a wide range of offences can lead to disqualification for membership of Parliament and State Legislatures. Sections 8, 8A, 9, 9A, 10, 10A of the Act list these offences, with the period of disqualification varying from section to section.
Here are the other offences under which the Election Commission can debar a candidate from contesting elections.
Offences relating to religion, untouchability
Section 153A IPC: offence of promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.
Sub-section (2) or Sub-section (3) of Section 505 of IPC: offence of making statement creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes or offence relating to such statement in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies.
Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 which provides for punishment for the preaching and practice of “untouchability”, and for the enforcement of any disability arising therefrom.
Section 7 of the Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988: offence of contravention of the provisions of sections 3 to 6.
Section 6 of the Places of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991: offence of conversion of a place of worship.
Offences against women
Sub-section (1) or Sub-section (2) of Section 376 or 376A or 376B or 376C or 376D: offences relating to rape
Section 498A: offence of cruelty towards a woman by husband or relative of a husband.
The Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987.
Any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.
Offences relating to elections
Section 171E of IPC: offence of bribery. Section 171F of IPC: offence of undue influence or personation at an election.
Section 125 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951: offence of promoting enmity between classes in connection with the election.
Section 135 of the RP Act, 1951: offence of removal of ballot papers from polling stations.
Section 135A of the RP Act, 1951: offence of booth capturing.
Clause (a) of Sub-section (2) of Section 136 of the RP Act, 1951: offence of fraudulently defacing or fraudulently destroying any nomination paper.
Section 10A of RP Act, 1951: Disqualification for failure to lodge account of election expenses.
Offences relating to terrorism
Sections 10 to 12 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967: offence of being a member of an association declared unlawful, offence relating to dealing with funds of an unlawful association or offence relating to contravention of an order made in respect of a notified place.
Section 3 or Section 4 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987: offence of committing terrorist acts, offence of committing disruptive activities.
The Prevention of Terrorism Act, 2002.
Offences concerning unlawful trades
Section 11 of the Customs Act, 1962: offence of importing or exporting prohibited goods.
The Foreign Exchange (Regulation) Act, 1973.
The Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985.
Any law providing for the prevention of hoarding or profiteering.
Any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs.
Offences relating to corruption
The Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.
Section 8A of the RP Act, 1951: Disqualification on ground of corrupt practices.
Section 9 of the RP Act 1951: Disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty.
Offences relating to national symbols
Section 2 or Section 3 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971: offence of insulting the Indian National Flag or the Constitution of India, offence of preventing singing of the National Anthem.
Association with the government
Section 9A of the RP Act, 1951: Disqualification for Government contracts, etc.
Section 10 of the RP Act, 1951: Disqualification for office under Government company.
Any other offence
For all offences which are not mentioned above, a person convicted can be disqualified under Sub-section (3) of Section 8 of the RP Act, which provides that such a disqualification can take place if the person has been sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years.