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Judiciary

Amicus curiae supports plea for permanent disqualification of convicted lawmakers [Read Report]

By Lawstreet News Network      Sep 15, 2023      0 Comments
Amicus curiae supports plea for permanent disqualification of convicted lawmakers [Read Report]

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has been told that the legal provisions which limited the disqualification for six years after the release of the convict from jail are manifestly arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. 

"Parliamentarians and the Legislators represent the sovereign will of the people and once found to have committed an offence involving moral turpitude, are liable to be permanently disqualified from holding the said office. Limiting the period of disqualification is a flagrant violation of the equality clause enriched in Article 14 of the Constitution," senior advocate Vijay Hansaria said.

Acting as amicus curiae, he, along with advocate Sneha Kalita filed the 19 th report filed in a PIL by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay related to expeditious trial of MP and MLAs.

He favoured permanent disqualification of convicted lawmakers from holding the office.

The counsel suggested the court to examine the matter related to permanent disqualification independently.

The counsel stated provisions of sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of section 8 of the Representation of People Act to the extent they provide that “shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release” is manifestly arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

"There is no nexus for limiting the disqualification for a period of six years since the release of the convict with the object of disqualifying him from becoming a member of the legislature," he said.

The counsel pointed out as per the existing provisions, a person is eligible to contest election after six years of the release even if convicted for heinous offences like rape or for dealing with drugs or being involved in terrorist activities or having indulged in corruption.

He said there are many statutory authorities who are permanently disqualified from holding the posts upon conviction.

"But the person making the law would incur the disqualification only for a limited period, though the lawmakers are required to be much more sacrosanct and inviolable than the persons holding office under such law," he said.

Citing Service Rules applicable to the central and state government employees, a person convicted for any offence involving moral turpitude is liable to be dismissed from the service, he said.

"Even a Class-IV employee would be terminated from service, once convicted for an offence involving moral turpitude, not to speak of Class-I, II and III employees and the persons holding any offices under the All India Services Act, 1951 and the Rules framed thereunder," he said.

The counsel also cited expert bodies and committees which have raised concerns about the criminalisation of politics from time to time:-

* Dinesh Goswami Committee Report (1990)

* Vohra Committee Report (1993)

* Indrajit Gupta Committee on State Funding of Elections (1998)

* Law Commission 170th Report on Reforms of the Electoral Laws (1999)

* National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (2001)

* Election Commission of India — Proposed Electoral Reforms (2004)

* Parliamentary Standing Committee 18th Report (2007)

* The Second Administrative Reforms Commission (2008)
ix. Justice J.S. Verma Committee Report on Amendments to Criminal Law (2013)

* Law Commission of India - 239th Report on on expeditious investigation and trial of criminal cases against influential public personalities (2012) and

* Law Commission of India - 244th Report on electoral disqualification
(2014).

He also said the Supreme Court in various judgments has also noted the increasing trend of criminalisation of politics which has severely affected the democratic functioning.

[Read Report] 



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