I was disappointed on reading the editorial on the Supreme Court verdict barring any person in jail or police custody from contesting an election (“Judicial overreach,” July 12). While the court has taken away the time allowed for filing an appeal from a convicted MP or MLA, it does not say what his fate will be if he is finally acquitted. Will his membership be returned to him from the date he was convicted by a lower court? On the other hand, if an MLA or MP is allowed to continue till the final verdict is delivered and his conviction is upheld (by which time he would have completed his tenure), will the privileges enjoyed by him be recovered?
It is in this context that the latest verdict is significant. If a person in lawful custody for an offence is barred from contesting an election, such issues will not arise. As for the apprehension that the ruling party can misuse the verdict, it is unfounded as there is no single party ruling across the country. A ruling party in one State is in the opposition in another. The chances of misuse are neutralised.
The editorial argues that the verdict may be misused by ruling parties against their opponents, as the law-enforcement authorities are notorious for carrying out the orders of their political bosses.
If elected representatives can do these things and are, in fact, doing the very same things, is it not necessary to stop them from coming to power in the first place? It may look like the chicken and egg story but in a nation where politics is reeking of corruption and crime, it is necessary for institutions such as the Supreme Court, the Election Commission and the CAG to act independently and in defence of the Constitution.
When our electoral rules say that a person cannot vote under some circumstances even though he is a citizen, the logical step is to deny him the right to contest an election. The judgment has come at a time when the political class has conscientiously allowed the ‘free-for-all-syndrome’ to play out to its full potential in governance.
An action generates many reactions. The necessity to deal with them will educate us on devising adequate mechanisms to deal with the notorious law-enforcers the editorial refers to.