NEW DELHI: The Centre on Wednesday opposed a plea before the Supreme Court to restrain people with criminal backgrounds from forming or holding posts in political parties, stating that it was part of the right to autonomy to elect office bearers within a party.
Filing an affidavit, it said a convicted person could not be banned from indulging in political activity. The hearing is scheduled for March 26.
The Centre’s response came during the hearing of a PIL filed by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, arguing that convicted people be barred from forming political parties.
“Registration of a political party before the Election Commission was only optional... and the Constitution has guaranteed the fundamental right to citizens to form an association, which could not be curbed or restricted,” the Centre said.
The petitioner contended that “even a person who has been convicted for heinous crimes like murder, rape, smuggling, money laundering, sedition, loot, dacoity etc. can form a political party and become party president.”
Why the government’s stand is significant
The Centre’s response comes at a time when the RJD’s Lalu Prasad, convicted in the fodder scam cases, and INLD leader OP Chautala, found guilty in the junior teachers recruitment scam, continue to head their parties.