Verdict big blow for many leaders

Prominent leaders Lalu Prasad, Mulayam Singh Yadav, Mayawati, A Raja, Kanimozhi and Suresh Kalmadi will lose their seats in Parliament if they are convicted in cases pending against them following Wednesday’s path-breaking judgment on electoral law.

Prasad could have become the first casualty of the path-breaking judgment if a Jharkhand court convicted him in the fodder scam case. However, the Supreme Court suspended the pronouncement of the verdict on July 15 following a plea from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief.

If they are convicted before the Lok Sabha elections, they will lose their membership and will not be able to contest the poll.

According to Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW), they are not the only politicians who may face the music following a conviction.

Around 14 per cent (688) of the 4,807 sitting MPs and MLAs analysed by the ADR and NEW have serious criminal cases against them, and any conviction will end their journey to legislatures henceforth.

An analysis of affidavits filed by candidates shows that 162 out of the 543 Lok Sabha MPs have criminal cases against them. Around 14 per cent of the current lawmakers in the Lok Sabha are facing serious charges. Of the 4,032 sitting MLAs from all state assemblies, 1,258 have criminal cases against them and 15 per cent are involved in serious cases.

“This is a slap on the face of the politicians of this country, and the verdict put them in bad light.  This verdict will instil a fear in parties,” Anil Bairwal, National Coordinator of ADR and NEW, told Deccan Herald.

The Election Commission has been seeking amendment to the law to bar convicted politicians seeking re-election to any legislature.  Former chief election commissioners have welcomed the verdict.

Former chief election commissioner M S Gill said the verdict will make Indian democracy “better”, while N Gopalaswami hoped that it will define the way tickets are distributed next time.

Former chief election commissioner S Y Quraishi said this judgment will have “serious and far-reaching implications”, while Navin Chawla also described the judgment as one in the right direction.

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