The Election Commission on Monday filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court supporting a PIL for setting up special courts to decide criminal cases related to people’s representatives, public servants and members of judiciary within a year and to debar the convicted persons from legislature, executive and judiciary for life.
On March 3, the Supreme Court, on a PIL by advocate and BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, had granted the government and the Election Commission the last opportunity to spell out their stand on a plea for debarring convicts from contesting polls for life and stopping them from entering the judiciary and the executive.
“It is pertinent to mention that the answering respondent (EC) has held several meeting with the Secretary of Ministry of Law, legislative department of the government. It is pertinent to mention that most of the recommendations /proposals of the answering respondent have been endorsed by the Law Commission in their 244th and 255th reports. However, most of the proposals/recommendations made by the answering respondent are either pending consideration by the UoI or have not been approved for the time being,” the affidavit said.
It was submitted that accompanying PIL, to the extent of relief claimed under prayer (a) and (b), was not adversarial and answering respondent No.1 (Election Commission of India) supported the cause espoused by the petitioner.
With respect to prayer (c) regarding direction to set minimum qualification and maximum age limit for legislatures as made by the petitioner, it is submitted that the issue is in legislative domain and will require amendment to the Constitution of India.
What are (a), (b) and (c) prayers?
"Apart from terrorism and naxalism, the most serious problem our country is facing is extensive corruption and criminalisation of politics. In executive and judiciary, when a person is convicted for any criminal offence, he/she is suspended automatically and debarred from his services for life. This rule, however, is applied differently in case of convicted persons in the legislature," the petition said.
The petitioner submitted that decriminalisation of the polity was impossible without debarring convicted persons from electoral politics for life, as done in the case of convicted persons being barred from the executive and judiciary.
"We cannot apply different rules to debar convicted persons from judiciary, executive and legislature," he said, adding "even after conviction and undergoing sentence, a convicted person can form his own political party and is eligible to become the office bearer of any political party”.
"In addition, a convicted person is eligible to contest the election and eligible to become member of legislature and even minister after expiry of six-year period from the date of conviction," the plea claimed.