Supreme Court heard a PIL, Writ Petition (Civil) No(s). 699/2016 filed by an NGO, BJP leader and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay seeking lifetime ban from elections for convicted politicians. The Supreme Court on November 1, 2018 was hearing the plea in the same case regarding the need for adequate infrastructure for special courts to hear exclusively the cases involving elected representatives by the Petitioners.
Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria who has been appointed as amicus curiae opined that it is better to earmark a particular court in each district to deal with cases involving elected representatives on a priority basis than having a Special Court to ensure timely completion of the cases. The Supreme Court agreed to consider this suggestion in the subsequent hearing and set the next date of hearing on December 4th, 2018.
- Presently, lawmakers are barred under the Section 8 of Representation of Peoples Act (“Act”), 1951 from contesting elections after their conviction in a criminal case for the offences listed in the aforesaid Section. However, such disqualification is only for a limited duration and is provided in Section 8 of the Act as follows-
(i) If the person is convicted for the offence and is punished with only imposition of a fine, such person will be disqualified to contest elections for a period of 6 years from the date of such conviction;
(ii) If a person is punished with imprisonment, such person will be disqualified to contest elections from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of 6 years since his release.
If the PIL is allowed, no politician convicted for a criminal offence will be allowed to contest elections during their lifetime.
- Referring to a data, Senior advocate Vijay Hansaria during the above case claimed that an estimated 34% of parliamentarians faced criminal charges.
- The Supreme Court earlier in Union of India v. Association for Democratic Reforms and Ant, (2002) 5 SCC 294, had ordered that the public has the right to know all the records of the candidates standing for election including criminal records. Such a corrupt practice makes the candidate liable to be disqualified from standing for election under Section 8A of the same Act.
 PTI, Supreme Court seeks data on conviction of politicians in criminal cases https://www.livemint.com/ (2017), https://www.livemint.com/Politics/KIbLHEFPfcTLax0euDVjOK/Supreme-Court-seeks-data-on-conviction-of-politicians-in-cri.html (last visited Nov 2, 2018).