Bench gives Centre 2 weeks to inform it of points of reference made to Law Commission

Even as the Centre said it was committed to decriminalising politics, the Supreme Court on Monday asked it to come out with comprehensive changes in law before the 2014 Lok Sabha polls to prevent persons chargesheeted in heinous crimes from contesting elections.

A Bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and Shiva Kirti Singh, hearing a writ petition filed by the Public Interest Foundation and others for debarring chargesheeted persons from contesting, told Additional Solicitor-General Paras Kuhad that the ultimate object was bringing purity in elections.

Senior counsel Dinesh Diwedi, appearing for the petitioner, alleged the Centre was delaying a decision even after the Election Commission had filed its reply.

But the ASG said the Centre was considering the EC’s recommendations. He said the Parliamentary Standing Committee had rejected the recommendations of the EC and the Law Commission to bar those against whom charges were framed from contesting elections. The matter on electoral reforms had once again been referred to the Law Commission.

Justice Lodha told the ASG: “Just 4 or 5 months are left for general elections. Ultimately a broad consensus is needed. How can the matter move forward? If left to the court, we will decide, but before that positive steps can be taken. Everyone is interested in strengthening parliamentary democracy. How do we do this? Suggest something to move forward. You apprise us of the points of reference made to the Law Commission, then we will see and shorten the area of debate on electoral reforms.”

The Bench granted the Centre two weeks to inform the court of the points of reference made to the Law Commission. The matter would be heard thereafter.

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