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SC to review its order debarring people in jail from contesting polls

CNN-IBN
Sep 04, 2013 at 06:02pm IST

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has admitted a government review petition against the disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs from contesting polls. The Supreme Court has said it is willing to relook at the judgement.

But the court has dismissed a separate petition which challenged its order that a legislator if convicted stands disqualified from the date of his conviction. The Supreme Court said this was a well considered judgement.

ALSO SEE SC bars convicted MPs, MLAs from Parliament and Assemblies

The court has issued notices to the Election Commission, the Bihar government and an NGO. The court said the Representation of People's Act is a clumsily drafted law. It has observed that the legislature complains about judicial interference when it tries to clear confusion about the law.

The apex court had on July 10 held that an MP or MLA convicted for any criminal offence attracting a punishment of two years and above will be disqualified immediately and a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest election to legislative bodies.

It had declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Section 8(4) of Representation of the People Act that says a convicted legislator can continue in office if he or she appeals in a higher court within three months of the conviction. The verdicts have been widely opposed by politicians cutting across party lines.

The government justified the protective provision for elected member on the ground that the rate of acquittal in India judicial system is high and if the elected member is once disqualified on being convicted, then his membership of the House cannot be restored after his acquittal.

"This court ought to have appreciated that the impact of the decision in the reality of the Indian judicial system is that the rate of acquittal in the appellate court is high and keeping in view the time taken to dispose of the criminal appeals, Section 8(4) was enacted to protect the House and ensure that governance is not adversely impacted," it said.

"In the absence of Section 8(4) of the Act, a member would be remediless since the disqualification would not be wiped out from the date of conviction, even when the conviction is reversed and he would not be entitled to restoration of his membership and disqualification of the House," the petition said.

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