The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition seeking to declare as illegal certain sections of the Representation of the People Act which disqualify candidates only in cases of criminal conviction and not under certain laws governing corruption. A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud dismissed the writ petition to declare Sections 8 (1)(c) and (e) of the Act as “illegal and unconstitutional” in so far as restricting disqualification of only to the extent of conviction. “This petition cannot be entertained,” the bench said. The special leave petition filed by petitioner P A Joseph, a Chennai resident, claimed that these provisions of the R P Act do not include punishments or penalties levied under laws like the Customs Act, 1962 and Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973. He referred to cases against AIADMK (Amma) faction leader T T V Dinakaran under FERA, including one in which a Rs 28 crore penalty has been slapped on him, questioning the provision in the Act which does not disqualify him from contesting elections.
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Parliament has no power to restrict the disqualification only to criminal conviction and cannot defer disqualification of a person found guilty of the charge of contravention of FERA provisions, he submitted in the plea. Disposing of the petition, the Madras High Court had opined that the court cannot interfere with the policy matters of the government which were fully under the domain of the Executive. The plea sought interim injunction to restrain the Election Commission from accepting the candidature of persons against whom punishment or penalty under the Customs Act and FERA were imposed.