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Government opposes PIL on unseating convicted politicians

The government has opposed a PIL filed by Lucknow-based Lok Prahari stating the Election Commission should be allowed to unseat a convicted legislator of parliamentarian the moment a court finds him or her guilty in a criminal case.

india Updated: Sep 20, 2017 23:18 IST
Bhadra Sinha
Bhadra Sinha
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
PIL,Convicted politicians,PIL on convicted politicians
Delay in declaring seats vacant to hold fresh polls gave enough time to such politicians to approach higher courts for staying the conviction. Even if the conviction is stayed, disqualification arising out of the original conviction does not retrospectively restore the membership, Lok Prahari has contended.(Vipin Kumar/HT File Photo)

Seat of a convicted lawmaker cannot be declared vacant immediately upon his or her disqualification because the law permits filing of an appeal to get the conviction stayed, the Centre has told the Supreme Court.

The government has opposed a PIL filed by Lucknow-based Lok Prahari stating the Election Commission should be allowed to unseat a convicted legislator of parliamentarian the moment a court finds him or her guilty in a criminal case. An SC verdict in 2013 had ruled that a lawmaker, upon conviction, attracted immediate disqualification.

Lok Prahari, through its founder, SN Shukla has complained that certain convicted legislators from Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh continue to discharge their functions as lawmakers despite being convicted for criminal offences.

Delay in declaring seats vacant to hold fresh polls gave enough time to such politicians to approach higher courts for staying the conviction. Even if the conviction is stayed, disqualification arising out of the original conviction does not retrospectively restore the membership, Lok Prahari has contended.

Although the poll panel has supported the petitioner, it submitted that EC cannot step in for election till the principal secretary in the Secretariat of the legislature doesn’t declare the seat vacant.

Referring to the SC judgment, the Ministry of Law and Affairs said in an affidavit the top court itself had acknowledged the appellate courts could exercise their power under the Criminal Procedure Code can either stay the conviction or quash a criminal case.

A 2007 verdict by the apex court was also cited to oppose the plea. In a case of rape a three-judge bench held disqualification of a candidate under election law will not operate from the date when the conviction order is put on hold under CrPc by a higher court.

Centre cautioned the court from “plunging into policy making” said steps are being taken to usher in more electoral reforms, an on-going and comprehensive process.

First Published: Sep 20, 2017 23:18 IST