Wednesday , 22 October 2014
Why Representation of the People Act is in news now?
Representation of the People Act

Why Representation of the People Act is in news now?

Lok Sabha Passed the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013

Lok Sabha on 6 September 2013 passed the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013. Rajya Sabha already passed the bill on 27 August 2013. The Bill was passed in Lok Sabha without any discussion.

The aim of the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 is to add a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act.

It is important to note that on 10 July 2013, the Supreme Court of India upheld the decision of Patna High Court that people in police custody cannot contest the polls.

Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of People’s (RP) Act

Details: A two-judge Supreme Court bench on July 10 struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of People’s (RP) Act. Section 8(4) had provisions for convicted lawmakers to hold on to their seats provided they filed an appeal within three months of their conviction.

What is Section 8 of Representation of Peoples Act 1951 :

Section 8 deals with Disqualification of representatives on conviction for certain offences. This section states that :

1 – A person convicted of an offence punishable under certain acts of Indian Penal Code, Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 etc. shall be disqualified, where the convicted person is sentenced to — (i) only fine, for a period of six years from the date of such conviction; (ii) imprisonment, from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.

2 – A person convicted for the contravention of—(a) any law providing for the prevention of hoarding or profiteering; or (b) any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs; or (c) any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961.

3 – A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.

4 – Notwithstanding anything 8[in sub-section (1), sub-section (2) or sub-section (3)] a disqualification under either subsection shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.

The stroked-through portion above was the controversial Section 8(4) clause of the Representation of Peoples Act which was struck down by the Supreme Court calling the Act ultra-vires of the Constitution and providing for disqualification of MPs/MLAs on the day of their conviction.

Supreme Court upholds Patna High Court judgment debarring persons in judicial and police custody from contesting elections (Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951)

Details : Convicted or not, rule applies to those in jail and police custody; not applicable to those out on bail. The Bench said: “We have heard counsel for the [political] parties and 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 Section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951 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.”

Rulings of the Supreme Court of India and the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013

The Supreme Court of India, in the case of Chief Election Commissioner vs Jan Chowkidar, on 10 July 2013 upheld the decision of the Patna High Court that any person confined in prison or lawful police custody is not entitled to vote under the Section 62 of The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951. Also, the Apex Court gave its verdict that the imprisoned person is not entitled to contest the elections to the Parliament of India or the State Legislatures.

The Supreme Court of India in the case of Lily Thomas vs Union of India, held the decision that Section 8(4) of the RPA that enables the MPs and MLAs who are convicted of any crime or illegal offence while serving the term as the members, to continue in the office until the appeal has been disposed off against the conviction, is absolutely unconstitutional.

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About Brijesh Singh

Brijesh Singh
Brijesh Singh mentors and guides IAS aspirants. He has written three books and is regular contributor to various articles on Civil Services Examination. Academically, he is post graduate in History (from CCSU, Meerut), Computers (from Sikkim Manipal University) and Management (from Indian Institute of Management, Indore).
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