AUGUST 11, 2022
New Delhi: The Supreme Court has said that it will consider a plea seeking to debar convicted members of parliament and state assemblies from contesting elections for life. An apex court bench, comprising Chief Justice of India NV Ramana, Justices Krishna Murari and Justice Hima Kohli, made this observation while hearing a plea by Senior advocate Vikas Singh, who appeared for petitioner Ashwini Upadhyay. told the top court bench that a constable will not get his job back if he is convicted of an offence, but a politician can even become the home minister six years after conviction.
Senior advocate on Wednesday sought a direction from the top court that convicted parliamentarians and legislators, former and sitting, should be disqualified and banned for life from contesting elections to Parliament or assemblies. As of now, convicted politicians are banned from contesting polls for six years. The PIL also pointed out, that while judges and bureaucrats were suspended for such activities, politicians were condoned by the law.
In an affidavit filed in 2020, the Centre had rejected the idea of a lifetime ban on convicted persons contesting elections or forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party, stating that disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of six years was enough for legislators.
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria filed the report in the apex court and informed that a total of 4,984 criminal cases against former and sitting Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) are pending before various sessions and magistrate courts across the country. He also drew the the attention of the court that an increase of 862 such cases has been witnessed in the last three years.
“Despite a series of directions by this court and continuous monitoring, as many as 4,984 cases are pending out of which 1,899 cases are more than five years old. It may be noted that the total number of cases pending as of December 2018 was 4,110 and as of October 2020 was 4,859. Even after disposal of 2,775 cases after December 4, 2018, the cases against MPs/MLAs have increased from 4,122 to 4,984,” stated the report submitted by amicus curiae Hansaria, assisting the court in the case, according to ANI report.
The report, furnished in a petition filed by Upadhyay, sought a life ban on convicted politicians from contesting polls and speedy disposal of cases against them. It further added that out of the 4,984 cases, 3,322 are magisterial cases, while 1,651 are session cases.
According to the report, 1,899 of such pending cases are more than five years old while 1,475 such cases have been pending for a period between two and five years, adding that more and more persons with criminal antecedents are occupying seats in Parliament and the state assemblies and it is of utmost necessity that urgent and stringent steps are taken for expeditious disposal of pending criminal cases.
In August 2021, the Supreme Court had directed that no prosecution against sitting/ former MPs and MLAs will be withdrawn without the permission of the High Court of the concerned state, adding that judges hearing the criminal cases against MPs and MLAs in Special Courts should continue in their current posts until further orders of the top court.