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HindustanTimes Fri,19 Sep 2014

Sibal's bill proposal could keep criminals off politics

PTI  New Delhi, November 10, 2013
First Published: 14:30 IST(10/11/2013) | Last Updated: 15:41 IST(10/11/2013)

Persons charged with heinous crimes will not be able to contest polls even if they are not convicted, if a proposal by law minister Kapil Sibal goes through.

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The proposal goes beyond the Supreme Court’s judgment of July barring jailed people from contesting polls and providing for immediate disqualification of a convicted lawmaker.

Sibal proposes to bring a bill to bar persons charged with heinous crimes with an aim of keeping criminals away from politics.

He said in an interview that he has already sought the opinion of the law commission on this issue.

“Even if they are not convicted, even if they are charged, they should not be allowed to fight elections,” he said, adding, “hopefully (we can) take it forward.”    

“I have written to the law commission. I have sought their opinion. But personally, I have even done a draft of the bill,” he said.

He was asked whether if it was on the lines of the Supreme Court judgment of July 10 that barred people in jail from contesting elections and provided for immediate disqualification of convicted lawmakers.

“I am going 10 steps further than the kind of debate that has been going on,” Sibal replied.

Sibal said he “personally” believes that people who are charged with very serious offences like murder, kidnapping, rape, which carry minimum sentence of seven years, should not be allowed to fight elections.

Asked whether he has discussed this issue with his Congress party, Sibal replied, “No, this is my view... I will certainly, before the next session, see that I consult with my colleagues and try and bring it to the Cabinet. If I can do it, nothing like it.”        

Interestingly, Parliament, during the Monsoon session, negated the Supreme Court order that barred jailed people from contesting elections.

Government had moved to negate the SC ruling on disqualification of convicted lawmakers also but an ordinance in this regard was withdrawn along with a bill after Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi attacked the proposal.

He dubbed the ordinance, which was cleared by the cabinet, as "complete nonsense" and said it should be "torn up and thrown out".


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