Chief Election Commissioner V.S. Sampath on Thursday hailed the Supreme Court judgement disqualifying MPs and MLAs instantly on their conviction for criminal offences, saying it was “long overdue” and one that would clean the electoral process.

“It was long overdue. There cannot be any distinction between elected individual and non-elected individual. Hope that the Supreme Court order will clean the process,” he told PTI in Paro, Bhutan.

Mr. Sampath, who is in Paro to observe the process in the general elections slated on July 13, was reacting to Wednesday’s judgement of the Supreme Court that struck down a provision in the electoral law that allowed convicted MPs and MLAs to continue in their office on pendency of appeal in higher courts against their conviction for criminal offences.

As part of electoral reforms to decriminalise politics, the Election Commission had in the past repeatedly urged the government to amend the provision in the Representation of the People Act to remove the advantage given to incumbent legislators against immediate disqualification on conviction of an offence that carried more than two years imprisonment.

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