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High Court seeks Centre’s response on plea for electoral reforms

Delhi High Court today sought the Centre's reply on a plea seeking a slew of electoral reform measures, including setting aside of the six-year cap on the period of disqualification from contesting polls on being convicted and sentenced to two years or more.

By: | New Delhi | Published: September 16, 2016 5:43 PM
It sought that two sections of Representation of the People Act (RPA) be declared "void, as they restrict disqualification period upto six years only and allow convicted person to contest Parliament and state assembly elections." (PTI) It sought that two sections of Representation of the People Act (RPA) be declared “void, as they restrict disqualification period upto six years only and allow convicted person to contest Parliament and state assembly elections.” (PTI)

Delhi High Court today sought the Centre’s reply on a plea seeking a slew of electoral reform measures, including setting aside of the six-year cap on the period of disqualification from contesting polls on being convicted and sentenced to two years or more.

A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Sangita Dhingra Sehgal asked the Centre to file its response within four weeks and posted the matter for hearing on December 14.

The plea claimed that the restriction of six years on the period of disqualification of a legislator was ultra vires of the Constitution.

It sought that two sections of Representation of the People Act (RPA) be declared “void, as they restrict disqualification period upto six years only and allow convicted person to contest Parliament and state assembly elections.”

The plea, filed by advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has also suggested implementation of electoral reforms proposed by the Election Commission and Law Commission which also favour disqualifying a lawmaker even prior to his conviction, at the stage when charges are framed against him for offences which carry a punishment of imprisonment for five or more years.

Besides, it seeks directions to the government to set minimum educational qualifications and maximum age limit for contesting candidates.

It suggests that political parties should have the responsibility to maintain proper accounts of their income and expenditure and get them annually audited by agencies specified by the ECI.

The petitioner has sought enhancement of punishment from fine or one year imprisonment to two year jail term for electoral offences like undue influence and bribery at polls and publishing a false statement in connection with an election.

The petitioner has also said in his plea that “candidates violating provisions of the Act should be disqualified and political parties putting up such a candidate should be derecognised and deregistered”.

The other issues raised in the plea include, proliferation of non-serious parties, process of recognition and de-recognition of political parties, as well as disclosure of assets and liabilities of parties.

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