Should convicted politicians be banned : SC asks government, EC
The Supreme Court has officially sought the viewpoints of the Modi government and the Election Commission regarding the lifetime ban on "convicted politicians after a quick trial which should end in a year." The PIL demanded an answer to the incongruity of letting convicted politicians continue to run for office while bureaucrats and judicial officers were not allowed to hold offices.
The Indian framework allows a convicted politician even after judgment and undergoing a sentence to form his own political party and is qualified to become the office bearer of whichever political party he chooses. Moreover, a convicted person is qualified to fight the election and eligible to become an MLA and even Minister after expiry of six-year period since the date of sentence.
According to findings by the Association for Democratic Reforms , an NGO, 1,460 sitting MPs and MLAs face criminal charges in various cases by 2013 July.
The SC, in a landmark judgment, struck down a stipulation in the electoral law that shielded convicted lawmakers from disqualification on the "ground of pendency of appeal in higher courts." This could mean several lawmakers losing their seats as MLAs and MPs. This won't apply to convicted leaders who had already filed their appeals in higher courts before the announcement of this decision.
The Congress government proposed an ordinance which was aimed at nullifying the Supreme Court judgment. The ordinance, if passed, would have admitted convicted MPs/MLAs to continue in office, if the appeal against the sentence was affirmed by a higher court within 90 days. Opposition leader Sushma Swaraj and Left leader Sitaram Yechury recognized the government's step to shield convicted politicians from getting disqualified.
A PIL was filed in the SC seeking regulation to the centre and the poll panel to prevent felons from contesting elections for life. It also sought to stop them from entering judiciary and executive. The petition also demanded a regulation to fix minimum educational requirements and a maximum age limit for those contesting elections. The PIL said criminalization of politics needed to stop.