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Delhi High Court today issued notice to the Centre and the Election Commission of India in a petition challenging the poll panel’s decision to reduce the disqualification period of Sikkim CM Prem Singh Tamang, convicted and sentenced in a graft case from 6 years to only 13 months.

The bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and C Hari Shankar further issued notice to the state government of Sikkim and PS Tamang on challenge of Section 11 of the Representation of People Act which gives power to the Election Commission (EC) remove or reduce the disqualification period.

The petition, filed by Dek Bahadur Katwal, General Secretary of Sikkim Democratic Front, assails Sec 11 of the Act as providing uncanalised, uncontrolled, and arbitrary power to the Election Commission in removing or reducing the disqualification.

PS Tamang was convicted for offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 and was sentenced to imprisonment of more than one year in 2016, in connection with the misappropriation of funds in the Milch Cows Distribution Scheme of 1996.

He took oath as Chief Minister after his party won in state elections in May 2019. As per law, he is supposed to get himself elected within six months. His disqualification however barred him to contest election till August 2024. The reduction of disqualification directly enabled him to do what he had been estopped from.

“The object of the said Act is to ensure criminal elements are kept away from the democratic process in India, and for the larger interest of the public,” said the petition.

The court has posted the matter for 24th December.

— India Legal Bureau

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