Why only 6 yrs ban on convicts from contesting MP/MLA elections, Amicus curiae says in report to SC

Supreme Court of India [Representational Image]
Supreme Court of India [Representational Image] File: ANI

New Delhi: Amicus curiae and senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, in a report filed before the Supreme Court, has submitted that limiting disqualification of lawmakers from contesting elections to a period of six years after their release, post completion of sentence, fails to meet the object of decriminalisation of politics.

Hansaria was appointed Amicus Curiae (friend of the court) in a PIL seeking a lifetime ban on convicted politicians from contesting elections and demanding expeditious trial of criminal cases lodged against MPs/MLAs.

Under the present law, in all cases where a sentence of imprisonment has been imposed on politicians, disqualification from contesting election continues only for a period of six years since their release. The report said that this makes a person eligible to contest election after six years of the release even if he was convicted for heinous offences like rape or for dealing with drugs or being involved in terrorist activities or having indulged in corruption.

"The provisions of sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of section 8 (of the Representation of the People Act, 1951), to the extent, they provide that 'shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release' are manifestly arbitrary and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," Hansaria said in his 19th report filed for consideration of the top court.

He suggested that the issue of constitutional validity of Section 8 of the RP Act, in so far as disqualification to contest election is confined "for a period of six years since his release", may be considered independently of the issue of expeditious disposal of cases by the Special Court for MP/MLA cases.

In another part of his report, Hansaria submitted that the Special Court for MP/MLA cases may be directed to furnish monthly reports of pendency and disposal of cases to the High Courts and reasons for delay of cases pending for more than five years.

He further suggested that the High Courts may create an independent icon, button or tab on their website with regard to pending cases against MPs/MLAs providing details like pendency of cases, order sheet of the High Courts and order sheet of all cases of the Special Court for MP/MLA cases, district wise.

The apex court has been passing a slew of directions time-to-time on the petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking expeditious trial of cases against MPs/MLAs, and speedy investigation by the CBI and other agencies.

The petition also sought directions to debar the convicted persons from contesting MLA/MP election, forming political party or becoming office bearer of political party.

In 2018, the apex court issued the directive to set up special courts to expedite trials of cases against MPs and MLAs and since then, it has issued many directions, including asking the Centre to set up a monitoring committee to examine reasons for delay of investigation in cases.

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