SC refuses to entertain plea seeking to declare as void election of those facing criminal charges

The apex court said the petitioner can pursue other remedies for implementation of directions given by a constitution bench in 2018

Press Trust of India November 16, 2020 22:10:13 IST
SC refuses to entertain plea seeking to declare as void election of those facing criminal charges

File image of Supreme Court of India. Reuters

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to declare as 'null and void' the election of those against whom charges have been framed for over a year for offences entailing punishment of five years and more.

A bench headed by Justice LN Rao said the petitioner can pursue remedies for the implementation of an earlier judgement delivered by the apex court, which had in 2018 left it to Parliament to make laws to ensure that persons facing serious criminal cases do not enter the political arena.

A five-judge Constitution bench had in September 2018 said that though criminalisation of politics is a "bitter manifest truth" which is a "termite" to the citadel of democracy, it cannot "usurp the power" of law-making which is vested with the legislature.

The bench, also comprising Justices Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi, was on Monday hearing the plea filed by NGO 'Lok Prahari'.

SN Shukla, general secretary of the petitioner NGO, told the bench that election of persons facing criminal charges is contrary to rule of law and free and fair election and it negates the resolve of the Constitution to provide justice to all.

He said that issue raised in the plea was not before the constitution bench which had delivered the verdict in 2018.

The constitution bench had said that it cannot direct the Parliament to do this, the bench observed.

Shukla referred to section 100 of the Representation of the People (RP) Act, which deals with grounds for declaring election to be void.

These are grounds for election petition, the bench said, adding that Parliament has to take a call on the issue. The bench said the prayer sought in the plea requires an amendment to the RP Act which can be done by Parliament.

While refusing to entertain the plea, the apex court said the petitioner can pursue other remedies for implementation of directions given by the constitution bench.

In the 2018 verdict, the Constitution bench had said that criminalisation of politics is an "extremely disastrous and lamentable situation" and this "unsettlingly increasing trend" in the country has the propensity to "send shivers down the spine of a constitutional democracy".

Passing a slew of directions aimed at de-criminalisation of politics, giving citizens an "informed choice" and infusing a culture of purity in politics, the Constitution bench had said that increasing trend of criminalisation of politics tends to disrupt constitutional ethos and strikes at the very root of our democratic form of government.

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