Election Commission gets SC notice on plea to disqualify convicted lawmakers

  • Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jul 22, 2016 15:50 IST
Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Centre’s petition seeking review of its judgment barring arrested persons from contesting elections. (HT file photo)

The Supreme Court issued on Friday a notice to the Election Commission asking if it is necessary for a parliamentary or assembly secretariat to issue a formal notification disqualifying a convicted lawmaker, who is bound to vacate the seat in accordance with its earlier ruling.

A bench headed by Chief Justice TS Thakur agreed to look into the plea filed by a Lucknow-based non-profit organisation--Lok Prahari-- and advocate Lily Thomas complaining that the 2013 SC verdict is not being implemented properly.

In a landmark ruling that ushered in electoral reforms, the SC held that in the event of a conviction for an offence attracting a sentence of more than two years the lawmaker will stand automatically disqualified.

In their public interest petitions, Lok Prahari and Thomas also demanded that a provision of the Representation of the People’s Act that allowed lawmakers guilty of a crime to continue should be struck down.

SN Shukla, the NGO president, told the court that despite the poll body’s opinion that the law does not require the secretariat to issue a notification, the latter insists on doing so. There is a time lapse in issuing the declaration, which gives an opportunity to the lawmaker to approach a higher court for staying his conviction.

Shukla referred to a case where a convicted MLA in Uttar Pradesh took benefit of this ambiguity and continues to be a House member.

“The judgement does not give clarity on how to proceed once the conviction takes place. There is no statutory provision to deal with us cases. Therefore, it is incumbent upon this court to clear the doubts,” Shukla submitted.

He asked the court to set out a mechanism by which the judgement declaring a legislator or parliamentarian guilty is communicated to the election commission which can then declare the seat vacant.

“Let us call for the Election Commission and find out how is it implementing our judgement,” the bench said, issuing a notice to the poll body.

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