EC backs lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers

Election Commission supports lifetime ban on convicts from contesting

Poll panel backs life ban on convicts

The poll panel was responding to a public interest petition filed by an advocate, Ashwini Upadhyay, who had sought a life ban on convicted politicians, among other electoral reforms.

As of now, a person, on conviction, is debarred from contesting any elections for the period of his or her prison sentence and six years thereafter.

Regarding the convicted politicians, the poll body said its stand was not adversarial to that of the petitioner - a lawyer - and that it "espoused the cause" raised by him.

Prayer (b) in the PIL filed by Upadhyay, who also claims to be a spokesperson for the Delhi unit of the BJP, refers to the plea for electoral reforms.

The EC said it is "alive to the issues that concern the conduct of free and fair elections and functioning of healthy democracy" and is "asserting for bringing in electoral reforms which further the cause of free and fair elections".

The Election Commission also filed an affidavit in the apex court stating it endorses the relevant portions of the PIL.

On the plea for fixing the maximum age criteria and minimum educational qualification, the Election Commission said that the issue was in legislative domain and would require amendments to the Constitution.

Under existing provisions of the Representation of People Act, convicted politicians are barred from contesting elections for six years from the date their sentence ends.

In its affidavit in the top court, the Election Commission added that it had already sent its recommendations to the central government and most of the proposals made in the petition had been endorsed by the law commission in its two recent reports too. "However, most of the proposals/recommendations made by the answering respondent are either pending consideration by the Union of India or have not been approved for the time being", the affidavit said.

"However, this rule is applied differently in case of convicted person in a legislature".

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