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Ordinance on Convicted legislatures sets bad precedent

The Constitution of India explicitly demarcates the role of Executive, Legislature and the Judiciary. In spite of such demarcation there are several instances where individual organs of the Constitution have overreached their individual roles either in a "curative" mode or "excesses" mode, citing public interest.

The recent trail of incident has been in prominence when Supreme Court has exercised such overreach in a "curative" mode in the backdrop of Legislature been defunct to take a lead in its role towards the society in general and increasing criminality in politics in particular.

The Supreme Court taking offensive view of the growing criminality in politics rescind the move of Parliamentarian to save their seat of Power under the ambit of Representation of Peoples Act 1951, Section 8(4) of the Constitution of India.

The legislature however undermining the gravity of the issue arbitrarily made a fuss of the issue and used Parliamentary tools to push through a law to negate the Supreme Court judgment by bringing in an ordinance.

The ordinance on convicted legislatures was cleared by Government in general and Cabinet in particular which in turn caused a political turmoil. It was seen as a blatant move by the Government to bypass Supreme Court latest verdict to ban convicted MP's and MLA's (convicted for Two years or more) from contesting elections.

The Supreme Court in July 2013 upheld the decision of Patna High Court in Election Commissioner Vs Janchowkidar case that Section 62(5) debars a person held under lawful police custody from casting vote. This followed the apex court view that imprisoned person cannot contest elections.

In Lily Thomas case, the SC held that section 8(4) of the Representation of people act 1951 is ultra virus to the constitution of India which allows a convicted MP and MLA to retain their seats on filling an appeal within 90 days from the date of conviction.

However, the Government by bringing the ordinance negated the Supreme Court's judgment and tried to dent the basic structure of the Parliamentary democracy thus setting a bad precedent.

Though it made amends and finally withdrew the ordinance under pressure from several quarters including Rahul Gandhi's public statement; but the ulterior motive of the Government was evident when it presented a true picture of the "Negation" of the Parliamentary politics.

It is a worrying aspect the cleansing move are coming from Apex Court rather than Legislature or Election Commission of India. The reforms are needed in Electoral proceeding followed by a moral resurrection of member under various national and regional parties.

The dire need in this scenario is for ECI to take stern step towards electoral reforms and National and Regional parties compulsorily evicting criminals from the party organization. This should be done under the supervision of independent authority to be constituted through legislative proceedings.

Rishi Tandon

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