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SC seeks reply of govt, EC on PIL seeking to debar convicts from fighting polls

New Delhi: The government and the Election Commission were on Friday granted the last opportunity by the Supreme Court to spell out their stand on a plea for debarring convicts from contesting polls for life and stopping them from entering the judiciary and the executive.

A bench of justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha gave the Centre and the poll panel two weeks to file their responses to the petition, which also seeks a direction to them to fix minimum educational qualification and a maximum age limit for persons contesting elections.

“Apart from terrorism and naxalism, the most serious problem our country is facing is extensive corruption and criminalisation of politics,” ,” the petition, filed by advocate and Delhi BJP spokesperson Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, has said.

It further added, “In the Executive and Judiciary, when a person is convicted for any criminal offence, he/she is suspended automatically and debarred from his services for life. This rule, however, is applied differently in case of convicted persons in the legislature.”

He has also submitted that decriminalisation of the polity was impossible without debarring convicted persons from electoral politics for life, as done in the case of convicted persons being barred from the executive and judiciary.

“We cannot apply different rules to debar convicted persons from judiciary, executive and legislature,” he said, adding “even after conviction and undergoing sentence, a convicted person can form his own political party and is eligible to become the office bearer of any political party.

“In addition, a convicted person is eligible to contest the election and eligible to become Member of Legislature and even Minister after expiry of six year period from the date of conviction,” the plea has claimed.

It has sought implementation of poll reforms proposed by Election Commission, Law Commission and National Commission to review the working of the Constitution.

PTI