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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Dec 2014

Law minister disputes Verma panel proposal on tainted MPs

Nagendar Sharma  New Delhi, January 28, 2013
First Published: 23:37 IST(28/1/2013) | Last Updated: 23:42 IST(28/1/2013)

Law minister Ashwani Kumar on Monday said he did not favour Justice Verma panel's recommendation for disqualifying candidates against whom charges have been framed by courts for having allegedly committed offences punishable with at least five years imprisonment, from contesting elections.

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Notably, civil society members had backed Justice Verma's recommendation for keeping tainted ministers out of parliament.

Kumar admitted there were equally strong views for and against the proposal, but the logic that "penal consequences" should be imposed on political persons only after they have been convicted by a court of law cannot be ignored.

"This logic is based on the fact that compared to number of cases in which charges are framed by courts, the number of actual convictions is extremely low. In my personal view, the logic of this reality can't be ignored," Kumar said.

He praised the panel headed by former Chief Justice of India JS Verma for having completed its work in a record time, but refused to commit on whether the government would accept all its recommendations.

"The government will endeavour to take the panel's recommendations acceptable to it to a logical conclusion during the budget session of parliament beginning next month,"  Kumar told HT.

The minister said the government has already started analysing the panel's report and is set to give priority to amendments recommended in the criminal law and electoral and police reforms.  

 "The government is giving its extremely thoughtful consideration to the Verma panel report with a view to make progressive changes in the law to ensure effective, affordable and credible justice," the minister said.

Kumar said he was not worried by the larger ambit of the Justice Verma panel's recommendations, since "it will provide the necessary underpinning for concrete suggestions and therefore it is necessary to look at the fundamental assumptions in the report."


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