EC Supports Life Ban On Convicted Politicians; Stands By Its Earlier Affidavit

EC Supports Life Ban On Convicted Politicians; Stands By Its Earlier Affidavit

Once again changing its stand the Election Commission today told a Supreme Court bench headed by a bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi that it favoured a  life term ban on MPs, MLAs from contesting election after being convicted in criminal cases.

The existing law disqualifies politicians sentenced to a jail term of two years or more from contesting elections for six years from the date of release from prison.

The lawyer representing the commission said life time ban was  needed to curb growing criminalization of politics in the country.

The submission is significant as during a hearing on July 13, the bench headed by Justice Ranjan Gogoi had expressed displeasure with the Election Commission for being non-committal on a plea seeking a lifetime ban on convicted politicians.

In an affidavit submitted before the bench said Ashwini Upadhyay's plea was "not adversarial".

Representing the panel, the advocate said, "Commission supports the plea to the extent that there should be a mechanism for decriminalisation of politics...We have not taken a decision. We doubt whether it falls in legislature's domain."

The ECs stand then was a complete U-turn from submissions made in an earlier hearing when it supported life ban.

"Is silence an option for you (ECI)? You must say either 'yes' or 'no' on whether you are supporting the petitioner. You are the ECI and here is a citizen of India who has come here to seek lifetime debarment of convicted persons. Can you say I will be silent? No, you cannot," the Bench had said.

Is our direction for completing trial of chargesheeted politicians within one year being implemented?, the Supreme Court yesterday sought to know  asking for detailed data on conviction and trial ofpoliticians.

“The data may perhaps open up a new dimension. We would also like to know what is the rate of conviction. We will see that criminal cases against politicians, if it does not end in conviction, then why? What are the reasons for it”, a bench of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha had said.

The top court made these observations while hearing a petition filed by lawyer and Delhi BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya seeking to declare the provisions of the Representation of People (RP) Act, which bar convicted politician from contesting elections for six years after serving jail term, as ultra-vires to the Constitution. It seeks debarring convicts from contesting polls for life.