Delhi HC: PIL filed for lifetime electoral ban on convicts

| Friday, June 3, 2016 - 15:32
First Published |
PIL, Delhi High Court

PIL filed in Delhi High Court for lifetime electoral ban on convicts

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Friday posted for August 24 a PIL seeking to declare as unconstitutional certain provisions of the Representation of Peoples Act that allow a convicted person to contest elections six years after their conviction.
The plea filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay said convicted people should be barred for their lifetimes from contesting elections. The petitioner said sections 8 and 9 of the Representation of the People Act 1951 should be declared unconstitutional and void as they restrict disqualification period up to six years only.
Disqualification rule for convicted person cannot be applied differently on executive, judiciary and legislature, it said.
"Hence section 8 and section 9 of the Part-II, Chapter-III (disqualification for membership of parliament and state legislature) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, is violative of the fundamental rights, unconstitutional and inconsistent with Article 13 and 14 of the Constitution of India," the plea stated. In the executive and judiciary, when one is convicted for any criminal offence, he or she is suspended automatically and their services are terminated for lifetime. 
However, this rule is applied differently in case of a convicted person in a legislature, said the plea. Even after conviction and undergoing sentence, one can form a political party, become the office bearer of a political party, contest the election, and become member of legislature after expiry of six years from the date of their conviction, Upadhyay said.
The petition questioned why should not there be a lifetime ban on convicted person on contesting elections, forming a political party and becoming office bearer of a political party. Upadhyay told a division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice V.K. Shali that a similar petition has been pending before Madras High Court.
The bench said the copy of that petition be produced before it and then it will decide the issue. The court posted the matter for August 24. The petition sought direction to set minimum educational qualification and maximum age limit for contesting candidates.
"Direct the Law ministry to implement the Election Commission's Proposed Electoral Reform and Law Commission Report No-244 and 255, which is necessary for de-criminalization and de-communalization of politics," the petition stated.
Certain immediate measures need to be taken feasibly to mark the first successful step towards an attempt to cleansing the electoral system, it said.
The Representation of the People Act has not provided for any proper guidelines in the form of minimum educational qualifications, good character and conduct, the petition said.

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