“The only question is about the vires of section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction, court observed.
NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgment, a division bench of the Apex Court struck down as ultra vires a provision of the Representation of the People Act which protects convicted lawmakers against disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal against their conviction in the higher courts.
The bench comprises Justice A K Patnaik and Justice S J Mukhopadhaya said: “The only question is about the vires of section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction.”
According to a statistics of Election Commission altogether 4,835 elected representatives from state assemblies to parliament are allegedly facing criminal charges in various courts of the country – many of them face serious cases like murder, rape and kidnapping.
The figures are based on information politicians themselves provide in their mandatory pre-election declarations.
The court, however, said that its decision will not apply to MPs, MLAs or other lawmakers who have been convicted and have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.
The provision of RPA says that a lawmaker cannot be disqualified in the event of his conviction in a criminal case if he or she files an appeal in the higher court.
The apex court’s verdict came on the petitions filed by Lily Thomas and NGO Lok Prahari through its secretary S N Shukla who had sought striking down of various provisions of RPA on the ground that they violate certain constitutional provisions which, among other things, expressly put a bar on criminals getting registered as voters or becoming MPs or MLAs.
The PILs had said that certain sections of RPA allow convicted lawmakers to continue in office while their appeals are pending and thus those provisions are “discriminatory and encourage criminalisation of politics”.
Meanwhile, according ADR, an organization keeping wach on national elections, claimed – on the basis of the self declared affidavits, submitted to the Election Commission of India at the time of contesting election, of 4835 sitting MPs and MLAs across the country – Out of these 4835, 1448 members or 31 % have declared criminal cases against them. Out of these 1448 members who have declared criminal cases, 641 have declared serious criminal cases like rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion etc.
This report focuses on elected representatives who have declared in their selfsworn affidavit corruption cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.
A total of 98 candidates with corruption cases under Prevention of Corruption Act have been given tickets by various political parties during elections in last 5 years (including Lok Sabha 2009 and all the state assembly elections since 2008).
Of the major political parties who have given tickets (in Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections in last 5 years) to candidates facing cases under Prevention of Corruption Act, INC has given tickets to 24 such candidates, BSP to 9 such candidates, AIADMK to 7 such candidates, SAD to 6 such candidates, DMK to 5 such candidates, BJP to 5 such candidates, INLD to 4 such candidates and RJD also to 4 such candidates.
Out of these 98 candidates, 36 candidates won the elections. These include 4 sitting MPs in Lok Sabha 2009, 3 sitting MPs in the current Rajya Sabha and 29 MLAs in various state assemblies.
In Lok Sabha 2009 elections, a total of 15 candidates with cases under Prevention of Corruption cases were given tickets by various political parties.
Of these 15 candidates, INC gave tickets to 4 candidates with cases under Prevention of
corruption Act. BSP and BJP each gave to 2 such candidates and AIADMK, SAD, DMK, RJD, INLD, JDU, SP each gave ticket to 1 such candidate Of these 15 candidates who have declared cases under Prevention of Corruption Act , 4 MPs won. These are: Jagdis Sharma of JDU from Jahanabad constituency, Rajaiah Siricilla of INC from Warangalconstituency, Dr. Rattan Sign Ajnala of SAD from Khadoor Sahib constituency and Lalu Prasad Yadav of RJD from Saran constituency.
Also, in the current Rajya Sabha, 3 MPs have declared Prevention of Corruption cases against them. These are T. M. Selvaganapathi of DMK, Faggan Singh Kulaste of BJP and Rashid Masood of INC.
Eighty candidates with cases under Prevention of Corruption Act have been given tickets by various political parties in elections to various state assemblies that have been held in last 5 years.
Out of these 80, 29 won and are currently MLAs Of these 29 MLAs who declared criminal cases on them, state-wise distribution is as follows: 7 MLAs are from Tamil Nadu and 3 each from Haryana, Jharkhand and Punjab. Current Himachal
Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Orissa assemblies have 2 MLAs each who have cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.
Of these 29 MLAs who declared criminal cases on them, party-wise distribution is as follows: 8MLAs won on INC ticket, 6 on AIADMK ticket, 3 on INLD ticket and 2 on SAD ticket. BJP, BJD, DMK, JMM, NCP each have 1 such MLA who has declared cases under Prevention of Corruption Act.