Centre tells Supreme Court that convicted legislators cannot be barred for life from contesting polls

The Central Government told the Supreme Court that it has rejected the idea of barring convicted legislators for life from contesting elections, forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.

This case is based on a plea by Supreme Court advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, who had argued that a life time ban on conviction should uniformly apply for members of the judiciary, executive and legislature.

There should not be any discrimination. He further added that an MP or MLA convicted for an offence mentioned in Section 8 of the Representation of People’s Act should be banned for life. He argued that a public servant or government employee is also debarred for these same offences.

The Union Ministry of Law and Justice countered this with an argument that the representatives of people cannot be equated to the public servants, as legislators are not bound by service conditions but are bound by their oath to serve the country and are bound by propriety, good conscience and interest of the nation.

The Centre further stated that “Legislators are not above law and offences under the IPC do apply to them.” They also referred to the Constitution Bench decision of the Apex Court in the Public Interest Foundation v. Union of India Case of 2019 in which the Court had stated that “criminalisation of politics is bitter manifest truth which is a termite to the citadel of democracy, the court cannot make law”.

Therefore the Centre is of the opinion that the disqualification under the Representation of People Act,1951 which is a period prison sentence and a ban from contesting elections for 6 years is sufficient.

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