Give life ban to convicted MPs, MLAs from contesting polls: EC to SC

New Delhi: In a significant development, the Election Commission on Wednesday pressed for a life ban on convicted MPs and MLAs from contesting polls.

According to ANI, the poll panel made this submission before the Supreme Court during a hearing.

The Election Commission said it favours barring convicted MLAs, MPs for life.

BJP leader Ashwani Upadhyay had filed a PIL seeking a lifetime ban on MPs, MLAs from contesting elections.

The central poll body has earlier faced flak from the Supreme Court for not taking a clear stand on the BJP leader’s appeal seeking to bar convicted politicians for life during a hearing in July. 

An apex court bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha slammed poll panel and asked whether it was ‘constrained’ to give its thoughts on the issue.

“Is silence an option for you (ECI)? You must say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether you are supporting the petitioner. You are the ECI and here is a citizen of India who has come here to seek lifetime debarment of convicted persons. Can you say I will be silent? No, you cannot,” the bench had then said.

“If you (ECI) feel constrained by the legislature, then let us know. If you are even constrained to the extent of giving your view, feel free and say so clearly,” it said.

After ECI’s response, the apex court said that it was clear that the poll body has supported the cause advocated by petitioner, Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, who had sought a life ban for convicted politicians.

What the current law says

Under the current law, a lawmaker can be debarred for six years from contesting elections once he is convicted for heinous or moral offences. 

Various pleas have knocked the Supreme Court’s door arguing that the ban should be lifetime at par with the judiciary and executive where a person cannot hold office for life post-conviction.

The Election Commission’s latest submission in the apex court could have far-reaching consequences on top leaders like Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad who has been convicted in the fodder scam.

Former Bihar CM Lalu Prasad was sentenced to five years in prison in October 2013 after being convicted in a 17-year-old case related to the embezzlement of Rs 37 crore meant for the purchase of cattle fodder for farmers in the state.

With PTI inputs