Supreme Court to take up plea to ban convicts from polls for life

  • IASbaba
  • August 12, 2022
  • 0
Governance, Indian Polity & Constitution
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In News: The Supreme Court said it will consider a plea seeking a lifetime ban on people convicted of offences from contesting elections and becoming Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assemblies.

  • The Centre had, in an affidavit filed in 2020, maintained in court that disqualification under the Representation of the People Act of 1951 for the period of prison sentence and six years thereafter was enough for legislators.
  • In its affidavit in December 2020, the Ministry had rejected the idea of a lifetime ban on convicted persons contesting elections or forming or becoming an office-bearer of a political party.
  • The Ministry had reasoned that MPs and MLAs were not bound by specific “service conditions”. They are bound by their oath to serve citizens and country. They are bound by propriety, good conscience and interest of the nation,”
  • But the Centre’s stand in 2020 contradicted that of the Election Commission of India (ECI).
  • In 2017, the poll body endorsed the call for a lifetime ban in the apex court.
  • It had argued that such a move would “champion the cause of decriminalisation of politics”.
  • The ECI had then agreed in the Supreme Court that a ban would be in the spirit of fundamental rights of the Constitution, including the right to equality.

Criteria for disqualifications under RPA, 1951:

  • Is found guilty of certain election offences or corrupt practices in the elections
  • Is convicted for any offence resulting in imprisonment for two or more years (except for the detention under a preventive detention law)
  • Has failed to lodge an account of his/her election expenses within the time
  • Has any interest in government contracts, works or services.
  • Is a director or managing agent or holds an office of profit in a corporation in which the government has at least 25% share.
  • Has been dismissed from government service for corruption or disloyalty to the State
  • Has been convicted for promoting enmity between different groups or for the offence of bribery
  • Has been punished for preaching and practising social crimes such as untouchability, dowry and sati.
  • Section 8 (3) of the Act states that if an MP or MLA is convicted for any other crime and is sent to jail for 2 years or more, he/ she will be disqualified for 6 years from the time of release.
  • Even if a person is on bail after the conviction and his appeal is pending for disposal, he is disqualified from contesting an election.
  • Section 8(4) allowed convicted MPs, MLAs and MLCs to continue in their posts, provided they appealed against their conviction/sentence in higher courts within 3 months of the date of judgment by the trial court.
  • The Supreme Court in July 2013 in Lily Thomas vs. union of India struck down section 8(4) of the RPA, 1951 and declared it ultra vires and held that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction.

Also Read: Key Provisions of RPA, 1951

Source: The Hindu

Previous Year Question

Q.1) Consider the following statements: (2020)

  1. According to the Constitution of India, a person who is eligible to vote can be made a minister in a State for six months even if he/she is not a member of the Legislature of that State.
  2. According to the Representation of People Act, 1951, a person convicted of a criminal offence and sentenced to imprisonment for five years is permanently disqualified from contesting an election even after his release from prison.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 only
  2. 2 only
  3. Both 1 and 2
  4. Neither 1 nor 2

Q.2) Consider the following statements

  1. The Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Act, 1959 exempts several posts from disqualification on the grounds of ‘Office of Profit’.
  2. The above-mentioned Act was amended five times.
  3. The term ‘Office of Profit’ is well-defined in the Constitution of India.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

  1. 1 and 2 only
  2. 3 only
  3. 2 and 3 only
  4. 1, 2 and 3


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