New Delhi, Feb 13: The Supreme Court on Monday said that it was “worrisome” that convicted politicians are heading political parties and selecting candidates for contesting elections in the country. “If a convicted person cannot contest elections under the Representation of the People Act, how can he float or head a political party and select candidates for contesting elections?” a three-judge SC bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, asked.
“A convicted person can surely forge (an) association with others for philanthropic purposes and can even open a school. There is no difficulty in this. But when they come in the field of governance, that becomes worrisome,” the apex court was quoted as saying.
The Bench had been hearing a Public interest litigation (PIL) filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay seeking a ban on the convicted politicians from healding political parties and selecting candidates for contesting elections and be part of governance after the polls. Election Commission was represented by counsel Amit Sharma.
Sharma said that although EC supports barring convicted politicians to be a part of the elections, it doesn’t hold any power to ban any such politician. He also said if Parliament amended the Representation of the People Act, the commission would “take steps to implement it”.
“Ostracising corruption from the purity of election is the avowed object of law. The Supreme Court in its series of judgments has furthered this object. What one cannot do (contest elections) individually, he cannot be permitted to do it (select candidates) collectively (as head of a political party),” the Bench was quoted as saying by Times of India.
Citing the Lily Thomas case, in which the apex court had rejected an RP Act provision which permitted convicted MPs and MLAs to keep their seat if they had already appealed against their conviction, the Supreme Court said, “How far can the courts go? Let the government and Parliament look into this.”
“Can we stop a convicted person from heading a political party? Will it not be incongruent with the right to free speech? Can the court restrain a convicted person from propagating his political views?” the court asked.