The Election Commission has suggested to the Supreme Court to direct the Centre to amend Representation of People Act to bar politicians charge-sheeted for serious crimes from contesting elections. Such a ban is suggested only if the charges framed are punishable by at least five years in jail and cases are registered 6 months before the elections.
The affidavit by the EC to the Supreme Court said, “The Commission proposes that the law be amended to provide that any person who is accused of an offence punishable by imprisonment for five years or more should be disqualified from contesting elections even while trial is pending, provided charges have been framed against him by the competent court”.
The affidavit added, “The commission reiterates that such a step would go a long way in cleansing the political establishment from the influence of criminal elements and protecting the sanctity of the legislative houses.”
EC has also suggested that Parliament should amend the law to empower the Commission to frame guidelines to ensure transparency in parties and to promote financial and electoral accountability and democratic functioning.
In response to a PIL filed by Ashwini Upadhyaya seeking ban on convicted persons to form political parties or becoming office bearers , the EC said, “Many such persons facing charges of a grave nature end up winning elections and entering our temples of democracy which is highly undesirable and the issue needs to be addressed.”
The EC pointed out that to effectively decriminalise politics would require legislative amendments which are beyond the scope of the Commission.