The Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed a plea seeking quashing of the government’s decision to bring an ordinance to shield convicted lawmakers from being unseated. A division bench of Chief Justice NV Ramana and Justice Manmohan, giving relief to jailed legislators and parliamentarians, said if an individual’s the right to stand for an election if jailed is curtailed, it would leave the door open for “vendetta politics”.
“Extending curtailment of the right to vote of a person in prison to the right to stand in election would, in our opinion, leave the door for practice of ‘vendetta politics’ by ruling parties,” the bench said in its order. “All that a politician/ruling party-in-power would need to do to prevent rivals from contesting an election is to ask the police to file a case and to arrest the rival,” it added.
A public interest litigation filed by advocate M. L. Sharma claiming that the amendment to the Representation of the People Act made by parliament in September last year was unconstitutional and for the sole benefit of the political parties. The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance, 2013, allows convicted legislators and parliamentarians to continue in office if their appeal is admitted by a higher court within 90 days and the conviction stayed. It also allows persons in jail to remain electors and cast their vote while in detention.