SC refuses to debar tainted politicians from contesting polls

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, November 16

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to debar tainted politicians from contesting polls, saying it was for Parliament to take a call on such issues.

A Bench headed by Justice LN Rao also refused to declare as null and void the elections of MLAs and MPs charge-sheeted for over a year for offences punishable with a minimum five-year imprisonment.

“We agree that what you are saying is correct. But we cannot pass such orders. This is under the domain of the Parliament,” the Bench told SN Shukla, a retired civil servant, who represented petitioner Lok Prahari.

The petitioner NGO wanted the top court to debar politicians against whom charges have been framed to be disqualified from contesting polls. 

It would amount to virtually amending the Representation of People Act, 1951, the top court noted.

On behalf of the NGO, its office-bearer Shukla submitted that such a law will never be passed by Parliament. Criminals were getting into the legislatures and they had already crossed the 33% mark.

“We are afraid the relief claimed in this plea cannot be granted by this court. However, we leave it open to the petitioner to pursue any remedy available to have the directions issued by this court implemented,” the top court said disposing of the petition.

The top court’s Monday’s order is in tune with its 2018 Constitution Bench verdict on the issue.

Displaying judicial restraint, the top court had refrained from debarring politicians facing serious criminal charges from contesting polls and instead left it to Parliament to enact a law to rid Indian politics of criminals.

“In a multi-party democracy, where members are elected on party lines and are subject to party discipline, we recommend to Parliament to bring out a strong law whereby it is mandatory for the political parties to revoke membership of persons against whom charges are framed in heinous and grievous offences and not to set up such persons in elections, both for the Parliament and the State Assemblies,” it had said.

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