Supreme Court issues notice to Centre, EC on PIl to debar charge sheeted candidates from contesting elections

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New Delhi: Supreme Court of India on Wednesday 28 September 2022 served notices to Home Ministry, Law Ministry and Election Commission of India on a PIL to debar candidates from contesting elections on framing of charges in serious offences.

A bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Justices KM Joseph and Hrishikesh Roy, have served the notices responding to a petition by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, which seeks writ order to the Centre and Election Commission of India to take appropriate steps to debar chargesheeted persons against whom charges have been framed under serious offences from contesting elections.

The petitioner has sought direction to the Election Commission to use its power under Article 324 to amend the Election Symbols (Reservation and Allotment) Order 1968, to insert such a condition (restriction) for the candididates.

Out of 539 winners of the 17th Lok Sabha, 233 (43%) had declared there were criminak cases against them. The petitioner citied this as “cause of action” for filing the petition on 25 May 2019.

It has been pointed out through the petition that the Jaya Prakash Narayan Committee, comprising of EPW Decosta, AG Noorani, RD Desai, PH Mavalankar, MR Masani and VM Tarkunde, on 9 September 1974, had recommended steps for electoral reforms bu the Centre did not take steps to implement the suggestions. On 20 May 1990, the Goswami Committee on Eelctoral Reforms also had suggested several steps to ensure free and fair elections and improve transparency but the Centre did not act on these suggestions. On 10 October 1993, the Vohra Committee submitted a report on criminal-politician nexus and again the Centre failed to do anything against the menace of criminalisation of politics. On 29 May 1999, the Law Commission in its 170th Report suggested measures to regulate the functioning of political parties but there has been no action by the Centre in this regard. On 31 March 2002, the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (Venkatachaliah Commission) submitted its detailed proposals to regulate the functioning of political parties and decrminalise politics but the Centre against failed to respond and implement the suggestions. On 5 July 2004, the Election Commission of India had submitted its proposals to regulate the functioning of POlitcal partiesand decriminalise the electoral process but the Centre agains did not act on these proposals. On 8 December 2010, the Law Ministry endorsed the proposals of the Election Commission (Background Paper on Electoral Reforms) but no further steps were taken. On 24 February 2014, the Lw Commission submitted the 244th Report on decriminalisation of politics but nothing was done by the Centre. On 12 March 2015, the Law Commission Submitted the 255th Report on Electoral Reform; and on 5 December 2016, Election Commission again suggested steps for electoral-democratic reform but the Centre did nothing. On 25 September 2018, the Supreme Court had held that criminalisation of politics is a bitter manifest truth and termite to the citadel of Indian democracy. The court recommended that a law should be enacted for decriminalisation of politics.

Despite these recommendations and the 2018 directions of the Supreme Court, the Centre and Election Commission of India have not taken steps to debar criminals against whom charges have been fraed in serious cases from contesting elections.

On hearing on PIL seeking life ban on convicted criminals forming a party and becoming office-bearer

At present, there is a ban of only 6 years on the contesting of the convicted, but there is no ban on such persons for forming a party and becoming its office-bearer, that is why people like Lalu-Chautala have remained party president.

With less money than what it costs to build an airport, all the laws of the land can be turned into the best of laws. We can have police reform, judicial reform, election reform and also bring an end to corruption, many different forms of crime, and the violence perpetuated by the Maoists, Naxalites, separatists and the Jihadi elements – Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay

Download Petition

A 5-Judge Supreme Court bench will hear on Thursday 29 September a PIL seeking Independent Secretariat for ECI, Independent Budget for ECI, Rule Making Power for ECI, Equal Status to All ECs and Appointment of ECs through Collegium of Prime Minister, Chief Justice of India and Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha [Case No. W.P.(C) No. 1043/2017 – ASHWINI KUMAR UPADHYAY Vs. UNION OF INDIA AND ANR. is listed on 29-09-22 in Court No. 5 as Item No. 502 subject to order for the day. – SUPREME COURT OF INDIA]

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