NEW DELHI: The EC on Sunday reduced Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang's disqualification period by almost five years under a provision of the electoral law, paving the way for him to contest the state assembly elections.
His disqualification period of six years, during which he was barred from contesting polls, began on August 10, 2018 -- the day he completed a year's jail term in a corruption case. It was to end on August 10, 2024. But the Election Commission (EC) on Sunday reduced it to one year and one month.
Tamang, whose Sikkim Krantikari Morcha party won the state assembly elections held in April, took over as chief minister on May 27. However, he could not contest the elections due to his disqualification.
He has to contest assembly polls within six months of becoming the chief minister to hold the office. Tamang was found guilty of misappropriation of government funds in a cow distribution scheme while he was the minister of animal husbandry in the 1990s.
A case was registered in 2003 under the Prevention of Corruption Act that was subsequently repealed. Tamang has served the full sentence. The EC order said Tamang's disqualification stands reduced to one year and one month.
In other words, his disqualification period ended on September 10 this year and he can contest polls to continue as chief minister. In July, Tamang had requested the poll panel to waive his disqualification period under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act.
Under the provisions of the law, the EC can reduce or remove a person's disqualification. Section 11 of the RP Act states, "The Election Commission may, for reasons to be recorded, remove any disqualification under this Chapter 1 (except under section 8A) or reduce the period of any such disqualification."