Centre opposes plea in SC to debar candidates charged with ‘serious’ offences | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
close_game
close_game

Centre opposes plea in SC to debar candidates charged with ‘serious’ offences

ByAbraham Thomas
Apr 10, 2023 10:22 PM IST

Additional solicitor general Sanjay Jain said the petition was not maintainable. “The presumption in criminal law is that you are innocent till proven guilty.”

NEW DELHI: The Centre on Monday opposed a petition in Supreme Court to debar candidates from elections against whom charges have been framed by courts in serious offences, underlining that defining “serious” offences will be a challenge and an order on framing charges can be challenged before a higher court.

The petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2020 (HT File Photo)
The petition was filed in the Supreme Court in 2020 (HT File Photo)

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay who filed a petition in 2020 that sought to debar persons from contesting elections against whom a court has framed charges in a “serious offence”. He also wanted the Election Commission of India to freeze symbols of political parties that field such candidates. The top court issued notices to the Centre and Election Commission in September last year.

HT launches Crick-it, a one stop destination to catch Cricket, anytime, anywhere. Explore now!

“The prayers in this petition are not maintainable. The presumption in criminal law is that you are innocent till proven guilty. The accused always has the liberty to challenge the framing of charges. If he fails, the legislative architecture allows many other chances,” argued additional solicitor general (ASG) Sanjay Jain.

Further, the senior law officer said reasoned that every prosecuting agency seeks to persuade the court that the charges against the accused are serious. “This expression ‘serious offence’ can vary from one agency to another,” he said.

The bench of justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna asked Jain if the government has examined the law commission report on the topic. “We have to identify which are the serious offences. There is a Law Commission report on the disqualification of persons from contesting polls. Have you examined what the report says in this regard?” the bench asked.

The Centre has been given four weeks to file its response. The bench will take up the case next on July 21.

The petitioner told the court that the petition is crucial to decriminalise politics and maintain the purity and integrity of the electoral process.

He referred to the law commission’s report in 2014 that recommended disqualification of persons against whom charges have been framed at least one year before the date of scrutiny of nominations for an offence punishable with a sentence of five years or more.

In its response earlier, the Election Commission said that election symbols are political party-specific and not candidate-specific and hence the prayers sought by the petitioner are not within the powers of the poll panel.

Discover the complete story of India's general elections on our exclusive Elections Product! Access all the content absolutely free on the HT App. Download now!

Get Current Updates on India News, Elections 2024, Election 2024 Date along with Latest News and Top Headlines from India and around the world.
SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Share this article
SHARE
Story Saved
Live Score
OPEN APP
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Friday, April 19, 2024
Start 14 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now
Follow Us On