Respite for tainted politicians

Published on Nov 26, 2006 02:55 AM IST

The SC has held that a person convicted of an offence can contest elections if his/her conviction has been stayed by a superior court before filing of nomination papers. Satya Prakash reports.

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None | BySatya Prakash, New Delhi

This night be music to politicians with criminal background. The Supreme Court has held that a person convicted of an offence can contest elections if his/her conviction has been stayed by a superior court before filing of nomination papers.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal delivered the judgment on an appeal filed by Karnataka MLA Ravikant S Patil, whose election was set aside by the Karnataka High Court.

Patil's election was declared null and void on the ground that his nomination papers for the April 2004 Assembly polls were wrongly accepted by the returning officer despite his conviction in a rape case in Solapur, Maharashtra, in July 2000. The trial court had sentenced him to seven years’ imprisonment, but the conviction was stayed by the Bombay High Court.

Under the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a person convicted of a crime punishable with a sentence of over two years cannot contest Parliamentary or Assembly elections.

The disqualification continues for another six years after the completion of the sentence.

Setting aside the Karnataka High Court order, the apex court said an order of conviction in itself would not render a person disqualified to contest elections in case the conviction, and not just execution of sentence, has been stayed by a superior court.

Normally, while admitting appeals against conviction and sentence in a criminal case, the appellate courts only stay the operation of the sentence.

The apex court clarified that the person seeking stay on conviction should specifically draw the attention of the appellate court to the consequences that may arise if the conviction was not stayed.

Email Satya Prakash: satya.prakash@hindustantimes.com

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