If a convict cannot contest elections, how can he form party, SC asks Centre

The Supreme Court on Monday asked the Centre that how can a convicted person, who can not contest elections, be able to form a political party and select a candidate to contest the elections?

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice Deepak Misra raised this question when the Centre said a convicted person cannot contest elections, but he can form a political party.
The apex court said a criminal deciding who the people should vote for goes against the basic tenet of democracy.

The court said a person who can not contest elections himself, how can he contest as a candidate? During the hearing of the petition of Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ashwani Upadhyay, the apex court directed the Centre to file the reply within two weeks.

The Centre said, ”there is no law to prevent any leader who has been convicted to prevent party formation. The government said after the crime is proved, the leaders can not contest elections.”

After listening to the Centre’s response, Justice Misra said, ”it is a different situation that no person can himself contest the elections but he can choose candidates to contest the elections.”
The bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said there was no problem if a convicted person open a school and do some philanthropic work, but if he is forming a party which will run the government, then definitely it is worth considering.

Mr Upadhyay had reasoned that if a convicted person could be banned from contesting elections, he or she should be also debarred from heading a political party and controlling other elected members of his or her party.

The court posted the matter for final hearing on March 26. In the instant matter, the Election Commission has already filed a response seeking power to de-register a political party in view of its constitutional mandate, while supporting the plea for decriminalisation of politics and internal democracy.

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