EC for life ban on convicts

The poll panel maintained that most of its recommendations have been approved by the Law Commission in its 244th and 255th reports

The poll panel maintained that most of its recommendations have been approved by the Law Commission in its 244th and 255th reports

Regarding the convicted politicians, the poll body said its stand was not adversarial to that of the petitioner - a lawyer - and that it "espoused the cause" raised by him.

In an affidavit filed recently before the Supreme Court on a petition filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, the Election Commission agreed with the petitioner that such a uniform ban would be in the spirit of fundamental rights of the Constitution, including the right to equality.

As of now, convicts are debarred from contesting elections for six years after serving their sentences.

Prayer (b) in the PIL filed by Upadhyay, who also claims to be a spokesperson for the Delhi unit of the BJP, refers to the plea for electoral reforms. The panel also backed a suggestion made in a public interest litigation that convicted persons should not be allowed to head a political party. The existing legal regime under the Representation of the People Act lays down that a politician convicted and sentenced to a jail term of two years or more shall be disqualified from contesting polls for six years from the date of his release from prison after conclusion of the term.

With regard to direction for setting a minimum qualification and maximum age limit for legislators, the commission said the issue is in legislative domain and will require amendment to the Constitution.

"It is pertinent to mention that most of the recommendations/proposals of the answering respondent (EC) has been endorsed by the Law Commission in its 244th and 255th reports".

However, some of the reforms are pending consideration by the Union government or have not been approved for the time being. But this rule is applied differently in the case of a convicted person in the legislature.

In his PIL, Upadhyaya wanted the court to issue a directive that politicians convicted of offences be barred from forming or becoming office bearers of a political party.