To keep a majority of those charged with serious offences out of the electoral fray, the law commission has recommended disqualification of candidates on framing of charges against them in cases punishable by five years or more in jail.
In a report submitted to the Supreme Court on Monday, the panel said the standing law disqualifying an MP/MLA upon conviction has proved to be “incapable of curbing the growing criminalisation of politics owing to long delays in trials and rare convictions”.
The report, to be considered by the apex court after six weeks, also looks into the aspect of candidates filing false affidavits to the Election Commission.
The law panel recommended that the offence be made a corrupt practice under the Representation of People’s Act (RPA) attracting a minimum of two years’ imprisonment.
The report recommends certain amendments to the Representation of People’s Act (RPA), which was enacted in 1951, to ensure persons with an “extensive criminal background” do not enter politics.
Remarking that disqualification of candidates upon conviction had failed to check the entry of law-breakers in the process of law-making, the committee recommended disqualification at the stage of framing of charge only for offences carrying a minimum imprisonment of five years or above.
Such a disqualification will operate until an acquittal by the trial court or for six years, whichever is earlier.
To ensure a fair opportunity to the candidates, the trial must be expedited and concluded within a one-year period, the report suggested.
It recommended that if the trial is not concluded within one year, then either the MP/MLA be disqualified at the period’s expiry or his/her right to vote in the House as a member, renumeration and other prerequisites be suspended.