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SC refuses to review its verdict on unseating convicted lawmakers

Hearing the review petition filed by the central government on both aspects, a bench comprising of Justice A K Patnaik and S J Mukhopadhyay said: ‘We don’t find any error apparent in the judgement of July 10. Hence, it is dismissed.’ The bench, however, said that Parliament is free to amend a law if it does not agree with the interpretation of law given by the Supreme Court.

The court said that it would hear review plea on the limited ground whether disqualification mentioned in the constitution bars an arrested person from contesting election or not. All political parties had talked against the Supreme Court judgement and had forced the government to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. The government intends to amend the said law to nullify the apex court verdict and has already presented it in the Rajya Sabha.

The Supreme Court had, on 10 July, held that if a sitting member of either House of Parliament or a state legislature is convicted and get the punishment of two years or more will be disqualified immediately. It had also said that a person behind the bar cannot contest election. The court had declared ultra vires a provision – sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Representation of People Act (RP Act) -- which made lawmakers eligible to hold the chair if the member files an appeal or a revision in respect of the conviction or the sentence within three months till the appeal or revision is disposed of by the court.

The said order of the apex court had come on Public Interest Litigation (PILs) seeking striking down of the various provisions of RP Act on the ground that they violate certain constitutional provisions. The PILs had said that certain section of the RP Act allow convicted lawmakers to continue in office while their appeals are pending and thus provisions are discriminatory and encourage criminalisation of politics.

On the persons contesting elections from jails, the apex court had said that a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest election to legislative bodies. It had said that only an elector can contest the polls and he/she ceases the right to cast vote due to confinement in prison or being in custody of police. The court, however, had made it clear that disqualification would not be applicable to person subjected to preventive detention under any law.
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