Supreme Court dismisses challenge to amendment to Representation of People Act which allows jailed politicians to contest elections

Supreme Court dismisses challenge to amendment to Representation of People Act which allows jailed politicians to contest elections

An Apex Court Bench headed by Chief Justice H.L. Dattu on Friday, dismissed a petition filed against Delhi High Court’s order in February which upheld the Constitutional validity of an amendment to the Representation of People Act that allowed people jailed before conviction to contest elections.

The Delhi High Court had reasoned, “Extending curtailment of the right to vote of a person in prison to the right to stand in election would, in our opinion, leave the door open for practice of ‘vendetta politics’ by ruling parties. All that a politician/ruling party-in-power would need to do to prevent rivals from contesting an election is to ask the police to file a case and to arrest the rivals.”

Reasoning on similar lines, the Supreme Court further observed, “If there is conviction and sentence, we can understand but the registration of an FIR and confinement is not sufficient to bar a person from contesting election.”

The petitioner, Manohar Lal Sharma had contended before the Delhi High Court that, “The impugned Amendment and Validation Act, 2013 is a fraud  upon the Constitution and vitiated by mala fides as it had been  enacted by political leaders to protect their vested interests by  hatching a conspiracy.”

It was submitted that by the impugned Amendment and Validation Act, 2013, the right to contest elections has been provided to those, who are in lawful custody, by overlooking the judgment dated 10th July, 2013 of the Supreme Court in Civil Appeal Nos. 3040-3041 of 2004 titled Chief Election Commissioner, etc. v. Jan Chaukidar (Peoples Watch) & Ors.

Read the Delhi High Court Judgment here.