Centre ‘appropriate’ party to respond to plea on disqualified lawmakers: EC
Polity & Governance
7th Apr, 2023
The Election Commission of India (ECI) said it would be “appropriate” to have the Union government deal with the disqualification issue.
About the news
- The Election Commission in the Supreme Court has chosen to maintain a distance on the question whether a disqualified lawmaker should be banned from contesting elections for five years.
- The commission said it would be “appropriate” to have the Union government deal with the issue.
- Election commission stated that the issue involved in this matter pertains to the interpretation of Article 191(1)(e) of the Constitution.
- Article 191(1)(e) gives the various grounds of disqualification “for being chosen as, and for being a member of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State”.
- They include
- holding an office of profit
- being of unsound mind or undischarged solvent
- being a non-citizen or voluntarily acquiring the citizenship of a foreign state
- being under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign state
- It relates to matters that do not have a nexus with the conduct of elections in terms of the remit of the Commission under Article 324.
- Therefore Union government is the appropriate party for the adjudication of the prayers made in the petition
About Election Commission
- The Election Commission is a body established under Article 324 of the Constitution.
- It is vested with the authority of superintendence, direction, and control of elections for the conduct of elections to Parliament, State Legislatures and the offices of the President and the Vice-President.
Powers of EC for disqualification
- Under the Constitution, the Commission has advisory jurisdictionin the matter of post-election disqualification of sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures.
- The opinion of the Commission in all such matters is binding on the President or, as the case may be, the Governor to whom such opinion is tendered.
- Further, the cases of persons found guilty of corrupt practices at elections which come before the SC and High Courts are also referred to the Commission for its opinionon the question as to whether such person shall be disqualified and, if so, for what period.
- The Commission has the power to disqualify a candidate who has failed to lodge an account of his election expenses within the time and in the manner prescribed by law.
- In Mohinder Singh Gill & Anr vs The Chief Election Commissioner and Others (December 2, 1977), the Supreme Court ruled that “Article 324, on the face of it, vests vast functions in the Commission, which may be powers or duties, essentially administrative, and marginally, even judicative or legislative”.
- This means the ECI mainly has administrative functions in the preparation of electoral rolls and conduct of elections.