Revisit issue of criminals, bar them from contest : Election Commission

The Election Commission (EC) wants the government and Parliament to revisit its earlier proposal to ban candidates facing serious criminal charges from contesting elections.

CEC S. Y. Quraishi feels this would help restore people’s faith in the electoral system, which has suffered a setback due to the increasing criminalisation of politics.

If the measure is enacted into a law by amending the People’s Representation Act, it would also improve the quality of elections.

“Such temporary debarment will be in the larger public interest,” the CEC said with reference to the ban on those facing charges of murder, rape and extortion. Quraishi said incumbent MPs and MLAs should be disqualified if they are convicted of such charges.

“The power to disqualify anyone is not with the EC. Under the existing law, a person is disqualified from contesting the elections only on conviction.

It is ironic that a person in jail is free to contest elections during the pendency of the trial, though he is not eligible to vote,” he said.

The EC had recommended that persons facing criminal charges, where punishment on conviction may exceed five years, should be debarred from contesting elections during the pendency of cases.

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