A Parliamentary Standing Committee has rejected an Election Commission proposal for debarring people against whom criminal charges have been framed from contesting elections, saying voters should be given the right to accept or reject such candidates.
It, however, suggested absconders be disqualified from fighting elections.
"The committee is constrained to disagree with the proposal of the Election Commission to disqualify citizens from contesting elections on mere framing of charges against them in a court of law for committing certain offences," it said in its report tabled in Parliament on Wednesday.
Headed by Rajya Sabha member EM Sudarsana Natchiappan, the Standing Committee on Law and Justice Ministry called the Election Commission proposal a "major departure from the law".
It cited current laws that only debarred convicts from joining the electoral fray.
"Who are we to decide that one should not be allowed to fight elections on grounds of charges? Tomorrow, he may be acquitted. So let the people themselves decide whether they want to elect such people or not," Natchiappan said who referred to jailed underworld don Abu Salem's moves to contest elections.
He cited another conclusion of the committee that recommends that fugitives and absoconders should not be allowed to stand in elections.