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Can't Bar Convicted Persons From Holding Posts in Political Parties, Centre Tells SC

Edited By: Bijaya Das

PTI

Last Updated: March 21, 2018, 22:41 IST

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

File photo of the Supreme Court of India.

The Ministry of Law and Justice, in an affidavit filed in response to a plea which sought banning convicted people from forming political parties and becoming their office bearers for the period they are disqualified, sought to dismiss the PIL saying an order asking the government to make a law in this regard was not maintainable.

New Delhi: The Centre has told the Supreme Court that appointment of an office bearer to a political party is a matter of the party's autonomy and it may not be apt to restrain the poll panel from registering a party just because its functionary was disqualified from contesting polls.

The Ministry of Law and Justice, in an affidavit filed in response to a plea which sought banning convicted people from forming political parties and becoming their office bearers for the period they are disqualified, also sought to dismiss the PIL saying an order asking the government to make a law in this regard was not maintainable.

"It may not be apposite to preclude the Election Commission from registering a political party because a particular post-holder is not qualified to contest elections," the Centre today told the apex court, while seeking to dismiss the plea.

The petition, filed by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, said that now even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, loot, sedition or dacoity can form a political party and become its president.

The Centre, in its affidavit, said electoral reforms is a complex, continuous, long drawn and comprehensive process, and the government was making appropriate modifications and additions of relevant laws.

"The Union of India referred the issue relating to electoral reforms in its entirety to the Law Commission of India for examination and suggesting plausible recommendations and the commission has since tendered its 255th report on the subject matter which also included the issue of regulation of political parties and inner party democracy and after having detailed deliberations on the issue, the law commission has made many suggestions in respect of the issue espoused in the petition," the Centre said.

Upadhyay claimed that in 2004, the poll panel had proposed amendment to Section 29A of the Representation of of the People Act, 1951, authorising it to issue apt orders regulating the registration or de-registration of political parties.

The Centre, in the affidavit, refuted this claim of Upadhyay saying, "In fact, the said report has suggested empowering the ECI to de-register parties in certain situations, none of which are relatable to existence of criminal antecedents of a post-holders of a political party."

The petition named several top political leaders who have been convicted or have charges framed against them and were holding the highest political posts and "wielding political power."