I welcome the Supreme Court ruling that MPs and MLAs will be disqualified from holding membership of the House the day they are convicted of offences, without being given three months’ time to appeal the conviction. The court has done the right thing by striking down as unconstitutional Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, that allows convicted lawmakers time to appeal the sentence and obtain a stay of their conviction.
The verdict must be shocking for many politicians who have made a mockery of the law. Convicted MPs and MLAs have continued to enjoy power all these years. The law should be equal for lawmakers and the common man. We hope our politicians will respect the judgment and will not subvert it for their personal gain.
Mohd Mudassir Alam,
In any profession, employers insist that their employees should have no criminal record. That lawmakers alone are exempt from this is hypocritical. The judgment marks the beginning of equality for all and will help in restoring people’s faith in the political system.
R. Sri Amala Devi,
The Supreme Court has shown yet again that along with the Election Commission and the CAG, it is a pillar that strengthens our democracy. Time and again, the legislature has failed to perform its duties. Although the verdict is a relief for all those who wanted to see politics freed from criminals, a lot needs to be done. Fast tracking of the justice delivery system to ensure quick and prompt disposal of cases is a must now. Criminals with political aspirations exploit lengthy trials to their advantage.
The court rightly held that there is no reason our elected representatives should be protected from disqualification pending appeal. Political parties will hopefully think a thousand times before giving the ticket to those accused of criminal acts, except when they genuinely believe that the charges levelled against a candidate are politically motivated.
However, even under the changed circumstances, a person can contest and win elections till such time as he or she is convicted. If cases take decades to end, the deterrent effect of the order will be substantially reduced. For the Supreme Court order to have its full impact, the judicial system must ensure speedy trials.
H. J. Bhat
The court has done well to disqualify MLAs and MPs from continuing in office on their conviction. But our politicians know how to get over it. They will operate through proxies.
What we need is a party with strong democratic convictions which nominate candidates with strong democratic credentials. This cannot work in a one-man party or party which is run on the basis of legatees.
The verdict striking down Section 8 (4) of the RPA is welcome. However, the judgment alone cannot ensure the decriminalisation of politics. Only education and increase in voter awareness will help. The fear of backdoor entry in the legislature — by securing the party ticket for spouses and close relatives — looms large.