The Election Commission of India has supported in Supreme Court a demand to bar all convicted politicians from contesting elections. EC’s proposal for electoral reforms and decriminalisation of politics is still pending before the government. The commission in an affidavit filed by Director Vijay Kumar Pandey called the plea submitted by PIL petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay as “not adversarial.” The affidavit stated, “It is pertinent to mention that most of the recommendations/proposals of the answering respondent (EC) has been endorsed by the Law Commission in its 244th and 255th reports. However, most of the reforms are either pending considerations by the Union of India or have not been approved for the time being.”
The Election Commission also stated that it has already submitted detailed proposals for electoral reforms, which include decriminalisation of politics, making the offence of bribery a cognizable offence, prohibiting advertisements during 48 hours before the polls and prohibition of paid news but it is pending before the government, according to reports.
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The PIL submitted by petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay who is a lawyer and a Delhi BJP spokesperson stated, “However, this rule is applied differently in the case of convicted person in a legislature. Even after conviction and undergoing sentence, a convicted person can form his own political party and is eligible to become the office bearer of any political party. In addition, a convicted person is eligible to contest the election and eligible to become Member of Legislature and even Minister after the expiry of six-year period from the date of conviction,” according to a report in the Indian Express.
The plea also demanded fixation of maximum age criteria and minimum educational qualification for contesting the elections, to which the poll panel said that the issue is in the legislative domain and would require an amendment into the Constitution. The matter is likely to be heard in the court on March 24.