Disqualification debate yields mixed views

National-level consultations on cleaning up politics and disqualifying those who file false affidavits threw up differing opinions at an event on the subject on Saturday.

The programme, organised by the Law Commission, saw participation of only 12 national and state-level political parties. Based on its deliberations, the commission will finalise a report on the two issues, which it has to submit to the Supreme Court later this month.

In December, the apex court had asked the panel to submit a report on the two issues—whether disqualification should be triggered upon conviction as it exists today, or upon framing of charges or filing of charge sheet; and whether filing of false affidavit under Section 125 A of the Representation of the People Act should be a ground for disqualification. It wanted to know that in case false affidavits become a ground for disqualification, what mode and mechanism should be followed for such disqualification. The issue of disqualification saw the participants in Saturday's event, including politicians, NGOs and other stakeholders, giving a spilt verdict. 

While some supported disqualification upon conviction, others said disqualification could trigger following the framing of charges by a competent court. Addressing the gathering, former Supreme Court judge and former chairman of Law Commission Justice B P Jeevan Reddy said all political parties field candidates who have serious criminal cases registered against them.

“Of the winning candidates, during the period 2004-2013, 28.4 per cent had 9,993 cases pending against them, out of which 1,287 cases related to murder, rape, corruption, extortion and dacoity,” he said.

Commission Chairman Justice (Retd) Ajit Prakash Shah said it is significant to understand how providing false information about the background, history, standing and antecedents of candidates could lead to democracy being filled with unwarranted elements and consequences.  

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