This refers to the report “Jailed persons can contest polls” (Nov. 20), where the Supreme Court has taken note of the amendment made to the Representation of the People Act, treating persons in lawful custody in a criminal case as a voter. It is disappointing, to say the least. It is the right of people to be ruled by clean politicians. When politicians attempt to win elections while behind bars, it is an act that wounds the credibility of our democracy.
By virtue of a proviso to Section 62(5) in the RP (Amendment and Validation) Act, lady luck seems to have smiled on jailed persons.
Preventive detention is aimed at only averting possible trouble from persons known to disturb law and order. The amendment, which now puts all the eggs in one basket, is a classic example of politicians protecting politicians. In view of the amendment, the Supreme Court has been left with no choice but to give its nod.
The amendment knocks the bottom out of the argument that only persons with a clean record should contest elections and makes a mockery of attempts to curb criminalisation of politics. A simple amendment has put the clock back and will now open the floodgates to criminals.
A jailed person exercising his voting rights is one thing but contesting an election is quite another. Unfortunately, the amended RP Act does not make a distinction between the two. Just because a jailed person can vote, it does not necessarily translate into automatic empowerment of contesting an election. Unfortunately, the courts have no say in matters of legislation.