The Election Commission of India (ECI) today told the Supreme Court that it was in favour of barring convicted persons from contesting polls for life and stopping their entry into judiciary and the executive. The commission also said it was in favour of setting up special courts to decide criminal cases related to people’s representatives, public servants and members of the judiciary in accordance with the spirit of the Constitution. In its affidavit filed in response to a PIL seeking setting up special courts for trial of criminal cases against people from the legislature, executive and judiciary, the Election Commission said the issues raised by the petitioner– Delhi BJP spokesperson and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhaya– are “not adversarial”.
“It is submitted that accompanying PIL, to the extent of relief claimed under prayers, are not adversarial and the answering respondent (Election Commission of India) supports the cause espoused by the petitioner,” it said in its affidavit. With regard to direction for setting a minimum qualification and maximum age limit for legislators, the commission said the issue is in legislative domain and will require amendment to the Constitution.
“It is pertinent to mention that the answering respondent have held several meetings with the Secretary of Ministry of Law, legislative department of the government. “It is pertinent to mention that most of the proposals/ recommendations of the answering respondent have been endorsed by the Law Commission in their 244th and 255th reports.
“However, most of the proposals/recommendations made by the answering respondent are either pending consideration by the Union of India or have not been approved for the time being,” the affidavit said. The commission said it has been championing the cause of decriminalisation of politics within the constitutional and statutory framework, wherever possible with the aid of article 324, relating to the functions and powers of the poll body. It has also issued necessary instructions in furtherance of the mandate to conduct free and fair elections and to “decriminalize emocracy”, it said.
On March 3, the apex court had granted “last opportunity” to the government and the ECI to spell out their stand on a plea for barring convicts from contesting polls for life and stopping them from entering the judiciary and the executive.