Convicted lawmakers: Plug legal loophole to cleanse electoral politics - The Tribune India

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Convicted lawmakers

Plug legal loophole to cleanse electoral politics

Convicted lawmakers

Photo for representational purpose only. - File photo

A report submitted to the Supreme Court has raised the pitch for a lifetime ban on lawmakers from contesting elections if they are found guilty of an offence of moral turpitude. The report, filed by senior advocate Vijay Hansaria — who is assisting the court as an amicus curiae in the hearing of a petition seeking speedy trial of politicians in criminal cases — states that permitting convicted lawmakers to rejoin electoral politics six years after their release is ‘manifestly arbitrary and violative of Article 14 (equality before the law) of the Constitution.’

There is no quarrel with the argument that a person convicted of grave offences such as rape, murder, drug trafficking, corruption and involvement in terror activities should be permanently debarred from contesting elections, irrespective of when he/she is released. The report has turned the spotlight on Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, which stipulates that the disqualification of a convicted politician can extend only up to six years after his/her release. This legal loophole, which is a major impediment to decriminalisation of politics, needs to be plugged on priority.

It’s equally important to expedite cases involving MPs and MLAs so that the political parties they belong to can take decisions on their candidature or continuation in office on the basis of the court verdicts; this will also help voters make informed choices during the elections. The amicus curiae’s report has rightly suggested that the special courts set up for such cases should be directed to furnish monthly reports of pendency and disposal to the respective High Courts; the reasons for the delay must also be specified for long-pending cases. All these steps, if implemented in earnest, can make a significant contribution towards cleansing electoral politics. 

#Supreme Court

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