Politicians In Jail Can Contest Elections: Supreme Court Gives Green Signal

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By Isha Gandhi, BVP Pune.

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Now the jailed politicians can have a sigh of relief as the Supreme Court has approved the amendment to the Representation of the People Act. With reference to this amendment by bench of Justice AK Patnaik and Justice Sudhanshu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya, ‘a person does not cease to be an elector only by a reason of being in police custody/ jail and can therefore contest elections to the state legislation and Parliament.’

The Apex Court, however, said that the issue of constitutional validity of the amendment will be considered separately after an NGO Lok Prahri opposed Centre’s petition and said it has challenged the amendment in RPA in this regard.

It was called as a “Ray of hope” of purifying the democracy in the Country when the Supreme Court delivered a judgement on 10th July stating that the persons in lawful custody- whether convicted in a criminal case or otherwise- cannot contest elections. The Supreme Court had ruled MPs or MLAs shall stand disqualified from holding the membership of the house from the date of conviction in a trial court. The Court had held that Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act as Ultra Vires. The section allows a convicted lawmaker to remain in office till the pendency of appeal. It was a setback for the politicians of the nations.

Negating the Apex Court order, a bill was passed by the Parliament that maintained the right of those in jail to contest polls. The Government went on to declare the apex court’s verdict as wrong and said it was the Legislature’s Constitutional duty to rectify it. Pursuant to which, the RPA (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 was rushed through Lok Sabha and passed within about 15 minutes after a brief discussion. It seeks to add a proviso to sub section (2) of Section 62 of RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as his or her right is only temporarily suspended.

It is a mockery, now there is a need to protect the law from lawmakers.