Friday, March 24, 2023

It is Parliament’s call to amend RP Act and bar charge-sheeted candidates, we cannot pass orders: Supreme Court

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Supreme Court today said that it cannot direct Parliament to amend the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and force a declaration that persons who have been charge-sheeted should be disqualified from contesting elections.

The top court pointed out that earlier judgments have held that once charges have been framed, only then can a person be barred from contesting elections.

Lok Prahari (petitioners) general secretary S N Shukla said this law will never be passed by Parliament, because “criminals are getting to be the majority in the legislatures. They have already crossed the 33 percent mark.”

The Justice L Nageswara Rao-led bench said: “We agree that what you are saying is correct. But we cannot pass such orders. This is under the legislative domain of the Parliament.”

The issue presented by Lok Prahari is related to the barring of candidates who have charge sheeted from contesting elections. The plea was to bar those candidates for over a year.

Justice Rao said: “There is a 2014 order passed by Justice RM Lodha, where this exact question was referred to the Law Commission. The Law Commission had said one cannot contest after charges are framed. We cannot direct this, but Parliament has to take a call.

Petitioner Shukla said: “We are not on this issue of whether one can be disqualified or not. Our point is that the election of such persons need to be declared null and void under Section 100 of the Representation of Peoples Act.”

The bench reiterated its position and said that again, the Parliament has to take a call on this.

Shukla said: “We get that additional grounds of disqualification can only be included by Parliament. But our point is different. Under Section 100 of RP Act, election of such candidates need to be declared null and void.”

Justice Hemant Gupta said: “Section 100 of the RP Act is about election petition and raising grounds on that.”

Shukla said: “Wrong submission of assets or facts will lead to disqualification of such candidature.” He read out the Supreme Court judgment in Lok Prahari’s case in 2018.

However, the Supreme Court allows petitioner to file fresh case for implementation of its earlier judgments asking parliament to bring law to prevent criminalization of politics.

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