THERE WAS no law currently to stop a convicted person from forming a political party, the Centre has told the Supreme Court as it sought dismissal of a plea seeking lifetime ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections and forming political parties or holding political posts.
In its affidavit filed in response to the plea, the Ministry of Law and Justice said the demands raised by the petitioner would require amendments to the law. “… the prayers sought by the petitioner require amendment to the existing law… a mandamus asking the government to make a law or introduce amendments to an existing law is not maintainable and as hence this prayer is for a relief that cannot be granted by the courts,” it said.
The PIL was filed by Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who contended that though law debarred convicted politicians from contesting elections, they were free to run a political party, hold party posts and decide who could contest polls to become MPs/MLAs.
The government in its affidavit said “having regard to the existing provisions of law relating to ‘registration of (a) political party’, there does not appear any connectivity and nexus between the situations debarring the persons disqualified under 1951 Act and/or convicted under criminal law from contesting an election to Parliament and/or State Legislature vis-à-vis debarring such persons from forming or becoming a member of any political party nor does the petition make out such a case”.
Hearing the matter on February 12, the court had raised serious questions over politicians convicted of crime and corruption heading political parties and selecting candidates for Parliamentary and assembly polls and said that it was against the spirit of democracy “If a convicted person cannot contest an election, how can he head of a political party and select candidates to contest elections?” the court had asked.