Plea In Supreme Court Challenges Constitutional Validity Of Provision In Electoral Law
The Supreme Court of India, Delhi. (Source: PTI)

Plea In Supreme Court Challenges Constitutional Validity Of Provision In Electoral Law

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A plea was filed on Wednesday in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a provision in the electoral law which stipulates that a lawmaker shall stand disqualified if convicted for more than two years, saying it is "arbitrary" as public servants are terminated from their services if held guilty.

The plea filed by Bharatiya Janata Party leader and lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay contended that the section Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 is "void and unconstitutional" as it shield the criminal law-maker from disqualification, while public servant if convicted is penalised by ensuring his removal, dismissal or compulsory retirement.

"Public servants are terminated from their services if convicted and sentenced to imprisonment even for two days. But, Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act protects the legislators from disqualification...hence, it is manifestly arbitrary, irrational and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution," the plea said.

"Presently 159 (29 percent) MPs (Members of Parliament) have declared serious criminal cases including cases related to rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, crimes against women etc," the plea said.

It said out of 542 elected candidates analysed after 2014 Lok Sabha elections, 112 (21 percent) had declared serious criminal cases against themselves.

While out of 543 successful candidates analysed after 2009 Lok Sabha election, 76 (14 percent) had declared serious criminal cases against themselves. "So, there is an increase of 109 percent in the number of returned candidates with declared serious criminal cases since 2009," the plea said.

"Therefore, through an unreasonable artifice, Section 8(3) perpetuates a malady which amounts to a subversion of democracy, which is part of the basic structure; furthermore, the provision of Section 8(3) is antithetical to the rule of law which is at the core of Article 14," it added.

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