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EC Powers to Reduce/remove Disqualification of MLAs and MPs under RPA

  • Category
    Polity & Governance
  • Published
    8th Oct, 2019

Election Commission cuts short disqualification term for Sikkim Chief Minister, Prem Singh Tamang.

Context

Election Commission cuts short disqualification term for Sikkim Chief Minister, Prem Singh Tamang.

About

  1. Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang was barred by law from contesting elections for six years in 2016 for graft charges.
  2. He had been sentenced to one year imprisonment for misappropriation of funds in the procurement of cows when he was state Animal Husbandry Minister under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. However, the section under which he was convicted had been omitted in an amendment in 2018. He completed the one-year sentence on August 10, 2018.
  3. After completing his one-year prison term in 2018 his disqualification was sharply reduced to just a year and a month by the Election Commission of India (ECI) recently.
  4. EC cited Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which empowers it to remove/reduce the period of disqualification prescribed by statutory rule for reasons to be recorded.
  5. The EC justified its decision on the ground that Tamang was convicted of an offence committed in 1996-97, when a minimum punishment of two years was warranted under the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, for attracting the six-year disqualification. Tamang was imprisoned for a year. The EC also noted that he had already served his sentence, and hence, his case merited a disqualification waiver.

Criticism

  • It is not conducive in controlling criminalisation of politics. The issue of Mr. Tamang not contesting elections and the ECI citing socio-economic-political factors were not relevant to the issue.
  • Morally, it is wrong of parties to give ticket to those convicted of crimes or to appoint someone convicted. Today, we have 43% of the people sitting in the Lok Sabha with pending criminal cases.
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