“A convicted person can’t contest election. Then how can he form a political party and select candidates? What you cannot do individually, can you do collectively through some agents? That is our question”
“ A criminal deciding who the people should vote for by itself goes against the basic tenet of democracy”: Chief Justice Dipak Misra:
The Supreme Court today said it was of the view that a convicted person- criminal or corrupt- cannot head a political party but sought the final view of the Centre within two weeks on the matter.
Hearing a public interest litigation seeking a ban on convicted persons from heading political parties filed by a BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Upadhayay, Chief Justice Dipak Misra observed: “A convicted person can’t contest election. Then how can he form a political party and select candidates? What you cannot do individually, can you do collectively through some agents? That is our question”
“A man cannot directly contest an election, so he constitutes a group of persons to form a political party and contest an election . An association of people.. they can come together and start a school, a hospital but when it comes to the matters of governance that matters..its a question of electoral integrity”, said the Chief Justice.
“ A criminal deciding who the people should vote for by itself goes against the basic tenet of democracy”, he said adding allowing criminals to head parties and select candidates goes against its earlier judgments that the corrupt has to be ostracized for ensuring the purity of the electoral process
Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand said the government would need some time to file a response. “You file your counter within two weeks”, CJI told Anand and fixed the matter for final disposal on March 26.
Election Commission meanwhile in an affidavit said for more transparency in the democratic system, it wanted power to deregister political parties.
Thereby it supported a PIL asking why convicted candidates, people who are otherwise not allowed to contest elections, were allowed to form political parties.
The Election Commission further mentioned that it has been making the demand to amend the current act for the past two decades but nothing has been done so far.
The PIL filed by lawyer-activist Ashwini Upadhyay asking why convicted persons should be able to form political parties, also asked that poll body should be given authority to ensure inner-party democracy.
In November 2017, the Election Commission had said that there should be a life term ban on convicted parliamentarians and MLAs from contesting elections