SC raps EC for ‘unclear’ stand on convicted lawmakers

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 13 Jul 2017 09:18:02



THE Election Commission on Wednesday faced the flak of the Supreme Court for not taking a clear stand on a plea seeking barring of convicted politicians for life, as the top court made it clear that the poll panel cannot remain silent on the matter.
A bench comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and Navin Sinha came down heavily on the poll panel and also asked whether it was “constrained” to give its views in the matter.

“Is silence an option for you (ECI)? You must say either ‘yes’ or ‘no’ on whether you are supporting the petitioner. You are the ECI and here is a citizen of India who has come here to seek life-time debarrement of convicted persons. Can you say I will be silent? No, you cannot,” the bench said.

“If you (ECI) feel constrained by the legislature, then let us know. If you are even constrained to the extent of giving your view, feel free and say so clearly,” it said. Referring to the ECI’s reply, the apex court said it was clear that the poll panel has supported the cause espoused by petitioner Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay seeking a life ban for convicted politicians. When the bench asked ECI to clarify its stand, its lawyer said the poll panel is supporting the cause to the extent of decriminalisation of politics.

The bench shot back, saying “Are you (ECI) supporting life-time debarrment?”

The counsel submitted that one of the paragraphs of the ECI’s counter affidavit said the poll panel supports the cause and it should not be “read in isolation”.
“Paragraph eight of your counter-affidavit is very clear that you are supporting it. You are saying we have to read between the lines which we think we should not. We do not think why we should find out any other meaning of what is there in this paragraph,” the bench said and fixed the matter for further hearing on July 19.

It also asked the ECI about what it had communicated to the Centre. When the ECI’s counsel said it has not said anything about it in the communication addressed to the Centre, the bench said “you cannot be silent”.