Consultation on Issue of Decriminalising Politics on Friday - The New Indian Express

Consultation on Issue of Decriminalising Politics on Friday

Published: 28th January 2014 03:16 PM

Last Updated: 28th January 2014 03:17 PM

The Law Commission will on Saturday hold a national consultation on sensitive issues of decriminalising politics and disqualifying those who file false affidavits to enable it to finalise a report on the two issues it has to submit to the Supreme Court next month.    

In December, the apex court had asked the law panel to submit a report on the two issues — whether disqualification should be triggered upon conviction as it exists today or upon framing of charges or filing of charge sheet and whether filing of false affidavit under Section 125 A of Representation of the People Act should be a ground for disqualification.    

It wanted to know if it can be a ground for disqualification, what mode and mechanism be followed for such disqualification.         

A Law Commission consultation paper on electoral reforms suggests a "third model" which suggests travelling beyond the domain of criminality and to evaluate the fitness of a candidate to contest elections.      

"Though the issue of electoral reforms is a wide subject, we are confining our day-long consultations on these two issues. We have to submit our report by the end of February. The matter is slated to come up before the Supreme Court on March 8," Law Commission Chairman Justice (retd) Ajit Prakash Shah told reporters here.         

The Commission has invited over a hundred registered national and regional parties for consultations which will help it firm up its views on the two issues.  

Justice Shah had written to several political parties seeking their participation in the event and several of them have responded positively. An apex court bench had asked the Commission to give its report on the two subjects while hearing a plea on electoral reforms.   

A draft Cabinet Note of the Law Ministry proposes to bar those against whom charges have been framed by a court for heinous crimes like rape, kidnapping and murder from contesting elections.  While the Law Ministry has proposed that a person against whom a court has framed charges for allegedly committing a crime carrying punishment of at least seven years should not be allowed to contest polls, the Election Commission has proposed before Supreme Court that any person charged with offences punishable with a jail term of five years or more should be barred.            

In its path-breaking judgement of July 10, the apex court had barred jailed people from contesting polls and providing for immediate disqualification of a convicted lawmaker.       

Another proposed amendment to the RP Act says that any candidate who provides false information and concealed facts in his or her election affidavit would face a jail term of three years and automatic disqualification from contesting polls for six years. The six-year disqualification will be over and above the three-year jail term.      

Under the present provision, candidates found guilty of concealing, failing to furnish information or providing false information in the election affidavit face six months in jail and a fine.     

In response to a question, Justice Shah said in his opinion, the affidavits of winning candidates should be audited by experts, such as the CAG.

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