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  India   All India  13 Feb 2018  Supreme Court frowns over convicts heading political parties

Supreme Court frowns over convicts heading political parties

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Feb 13, 2018, 2:01 am IST
Updated : Feb 13, 2018, 2:02 am IST

At present, the EC has the power only to recognise a political party but not to de-recognise it.

Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)
 Supreme Court of India (Photo: Asian Age)

New Delhi: A convicted politician, disqualified from contesting election, can defeat the court’s attempts to rid politics of corruption if he or she is allowed to head a political organisation and choose candidates for the polls, the Supreme Court observed on Monday, signalling fresh trouble for leaders like RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, AIADMK leader Sasikala and INLD chief O. P. Chautala.

The apex court also decided to examine if the EC can be empowered to derecognise a political party formed by a politician convicted in a corruption case.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, said, “How can a convicted person be an office bearer of a political party and select candidates to contest elections. This goes against our judgments that corruption in politics to be ostracised from the purity of elections. It is a strange situation that what convicted persons cannot do individually, they can do collectively through some of their agents.”

The bench, which also included Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, made the observation during the hearing on a PIL filed by BJP leader and advocate Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya seeking a ban on convicted persons from forming a party or holding a post in a political party.  

The bench asked the Centre to file its response after the Election Commission told the court that it supports a ban on convicts floating parties and pleaded for powers to de-register a political party if a convicted politician heads it.

Senior counsel Siddharth Luthra, appearing for petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyaya, said, “We can’t impose a law on Parliament when such a prohibition is not there in the law.”

The bench, however, said that it will examine whether the court can empower the EC to de-register political parties headed by convicted persons.

At present, the EC has the power only to recognise a political party but not to de-recognise it.

The petitioner cited the instance of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mr Chautala and Ms Sasikala who have been convicted in major scams but still hold top political posts. Similarly, charges have been framed by the courts in cases against Suresh Kalmadi, Jagan Mohan Reddy, Madhu Koda, Ashok Chavan, Akabaruddin Owaisi,  Mayawati and many others who are holding top posts in the parties, the petitioner said.

The bench said that it will examine Section 29 (A) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) as to whether the EC is empowered to derecognise the political party formed by a convicted person.

The petitioner said that convicted persons are disqualified from contesting elections  and they forfeit the right to vote under section 62 of the RP Act.   

Tags: lalu prasad yadav, sasikala, election commission
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi