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SC Refuses To Entertain Plea Seeking Ban On Persons With Criminal Antecedents From Contesting Elections; Cites Separation of Powers

Sanya Talwar
16 Nov 2020 10:51 AM GMT
SC Refuses To Entertain Plea Seeking Ban On Persons With Criminal Antecedents From Contesting Elections; Cites Separation of Powers
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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking a bar on persons with criminal antecedents from contesting elections.A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta & Ajay Rastogi said that the issue in the instant petition was the domain of the parliament and that it was open to the petitioner to pursue any remedy available for effectuating implementing directions...

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The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking a bar on persons with criminal antecedents from contesting elections.

A bench of Justices L. Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta & Ajay Rastogi said that the issue in the instant petition was the domain of the parliament and that it was open to the petitioner to pursue any remedy available for effectuating implementing directions issued by the Court earlier in this regard.

Today, Lok Prahari, through its General Secretary, Advocate SN Shukla told the court that the issue before court today was to declare the candidature of those persons null and void who have been chargesheeted by courts for over a year and have been convicted with imprisonment for over 5 years.

"Election of such persons must declared null and void as under Section 100 of the Representation of Peoples Act," Shukla told the court.

The bench told Shukla that the exact question had been dealt with in the 2014 order passed by Justice RM Lodha which was then referred to the Law Commission.

Shukla then cited the 2018 judgment which had directed necessary amendments to Form 26 of Rule 4A of the Conduct of Elections Rules of 1961 so as to require candidates to declare on affidavit theirs as well as their associates' sources of income.

In this context, Shukla told the court that no steps had been taken in terms of the judgment of top court in Public Interest Foundation of India V. UOI to ensure that persons with criminal background should not contest elections and that the number of persons with criminal antecedents have been increasing in the parliament.

No law has been brought into effect by the parliament despite recommendations and observations, Shukla said.

When the bench finally refused to entertain the petition, the petitioner remarked that the parliament would never ensure that such a law is passed. "Majority of the parliament has criminals. Law will never be passed because criminals have already passed the 33% mark in the Parliament," he said.

In 2018, a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court the Court delivered its judgement in the Electoral Disqualification case. The Court had to decide if persons ought to be disqualified from membership in legislative bodies when criminal charges are framed against them. 

The court had unanimously decided that it cannot disqualify candidates, against whom criminal charges have been framed, from contesting elections, recognizing that it cannot introduce new rules regarding the disqualification of electoral candidates.

The Bench had then asked Parliament to make a law that prevents candidates accused of serious crimes from entering politics. 

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