SC may ban convicted persons from contesting polls

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph told Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhayay that he should not lose track of the main prayer in his PIL filed earlier. PTI File photo

The Supreme Court on Thursday said it would consider a plea for imposing a life-time ban on politicians from contesting elections, if they have been convicted in criminal cases.

A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and justices U U Lalit and K M Joseph, however, told Delhi BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhayay that he should not lose track of the main prayer in the PIL he filed earlier.

Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act states that a person convicted and sentenced for an offence with not less than two years of imprisonment shall be disqualified from the date of conviction for a period of six years.

Upadhayay's plea asked why if a public servant or a government officer once convicted in a criminal case is debarred from service for life, the same principle should not apply for politicians.

The court fixed the matter for consideration of the issue on December 4.

On his plea, the top court had earlier directed for setting up 12 special courts across the country to try MPs and MLAs. The court was told only nine such courts are functional at present.

On Thursday, senior advocate Vijay Hansaria, appearing as amicus curiae, submitted that instead of setting up special courts, it would be more viable to designate one sessions and one magisterial court in each district to try elected representatives, including MP and MLAs, to ensure timely completion of trial.

He had earlier said it would require setting up more than 70 special courts to deal with the pending cases.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Union Government, said he would like to file a response in the matter.

The government is of view that wherever less than 65 cases are pending, a regular court can deal with matters, he said.

Mehta also pointed out that a common person, in jail for 10 years or so, may raise an objection if more special courts are set up for the trial of elected representatives exclusively, saying speedy trial was a fundamental right for everyone.

In his submission, Upadhayay cited the latest report of the NGO Association of Democratic Rights, stating there are 13,680 cases pending against elected representatives.

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SC may ban convicted persons from contesting polls

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