There are apprehensions that disqualifying candidates from contesting polls from the day charges are framed against them in a court — as observed by the Supreme Court — may be misused by a party in power if put into effect, a parliamentary panel has said. The parliamentary standing committee on law and personnel, while examining electoral reforms, has asked political parties to send their feedback on the apex court’s observation. “It has been apprehended that the process of framing of charges and thereafter being automatically disqualified are likely to be misused, particularly by the party in power. Please comment,” it said in a mail sent to the parties.
Currently, a candidate is disqualified from contesting for a certain period if he or she is convicted by a court. The present position is also based on a July 2013 SC judgement. Politicians such as Lalu Prasad are barred from standing for an election on the basis of the apex court order. Earlier this month, the apex court referred to a five- judge constitution bench a case on whether politicians charged with offences attracting five or more years of jail term should be barred from contesting polls. The court was hearing a plea which sought to declare the provisions of the Representation of the People Act, which bars convicted politician from contesting elections for six years, as ultra vires to the Constitution.
Last month, the court had pulled up the Election Commission for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking the barring of convicted politicians for life. It had said the EC could not remain silent on the matter and wondered if it was “constrained” to give its views on the matter.