Person in Jail or Police Custody cannot Contest Elections: Supreme Court

Jul 12, 2013 10:16 IST

The Supreme Court in its landmark Judgement on 11 July 2013 barred Persons in Jail or Police Custody from contesting election for legislative bodies. The Supreme Court’s decision would help in bringing an end to the era of the under trial politicians, who contest elections from behind the bars.

The Supreme Court ruled that only an elector can contest the polls and the elector ceases the right to cast vote due to confinement in prison or being in custody of Police. The court, however, made it clear that disqualification will not be applicable to person subjected to preventive detention, under any law.

The Supreme Court Bench that comprised Justice AK Patnaik and Justice SJ Mukhopadhayay, while referring to the Representation of Peoples’ Act said that the Act (Section 4 & 5) lays down the qualifications for membership of the House of the People and Legislative Assembly and one of the qualifications laid down is that he must be an elector.

The court passed the order on an appeal filed by the Chief Election Commissioner and others challenging the order of Patna High Court that barred people in Police custody from contesting polls. The Judgement of the Supreme Court has confirmed 2004 ruling of the Patna High Court that said if - a jailed person can’t vote, than a jailed person can’t contest election.

The Apex Court supported the decision of Patna High Court by quoting “We do not find any infirmity in the findings of the High Court in the impugned common order that a person, who has no right to vote by virtue of the provisions of sub-section (5) of section 62 of the 1951 Act is not an elector and is, therefore, not qualified to contest the election to the house of the people or the legislative assembly of a state,”.

The SC Bench in its Judgement cited Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (Acts of Parliament) that no person shall vote in any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police. Reading sections 4, 5 and 62(5) together, the apex court came to the conclusion that a person in jail or police custody cannot contest election.

Comment: This decision of the Supreme Court would bar the criminal elements from entering the Parliament and State Assemblies and keep the house clean.  The judgement may change the future of Indian Politics in the coming time.

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