New Delhi, March 25
A day after Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified from the Lok Sabha, a PIL has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging Section 8(3) of Representation of the People Act, 1951, which prescribes for “automatic disqualification” of lawmakers upon their conviction coupled with a minimum two-year imprisonment.
Filed by Kerala-based activist Aabha Muralidharan, the PIL said the immediate reason for approaching the top court was Rahul’s disqualification as MP from Wayanad constituency following a Surat court’s verdict convicting him in the 2019 criminal defamation case and awarding him a two-year prison sentence.
The petitioner urged the top court to declare unconstitutional the automatic disqualification under Section 8(3) of the Act for being “arbitrary” and “illegal”. An automatic disqualification of people’s representatives of elected legislative bodies restrains them from “freely discharging their duties cast upon them by the voters of their respective constituencies, which is against the principles of democracy”, Muralidharan submitted.
The petition, expected to be mentioned on Monday for urgent listing for hearing, demanded that factors such as nature, gravity, role, moral turpitude and the role of the accused ought to be examined while considering disqualification of a lawmaker. “The present scenario provides a blanket… ‘automatic’ disqualification, which is against the principles of natural justice since various convictions are reversed at the appellate stage and under such circumstances, the valuable time of a member, who is discharging duties towards the public at large, shall be rendered futile,” the petitioner contended.
Meanwhile, a protest was organised by Congress workers, blocking the Delhi-Jaipur Highway near Gurugram. Protests were also held in several cities across the country.
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