While still struggling to come to terms with the enormity of the Supreme Court verdict disqualifying a sitting legislator on the day he or she is convicted, the political class has been delivered another shocker that a person cannot contest an election if she or he is in lawful custody. While the latest verdict may bring some cheer to those wanting to see politics decriminalised, the Supreme Court has gone a bit too far in its attempts to usher in reforms. Fears expressed by some political parties about the possibility of the verdict being misused by parties in power are not without valid reasons.
Section 8 (4)
This refers to the Supreme Court verdict declaring Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act ultra vires. A Constitution Bench of the same court ruled in K. Prabhakaran vs P. Jayarajan case that the purpose of the sub-section was not to confer an advantage on any person but to protect the House. Further, it held this immunity would cease to apply when the House was dissolved.
Section 8(4) of the RP Act, 1951, was a loophole for culprits to get elected to the legislature and evade punishment. It is true that criminals with political connections get VIP treatment in jail too, but the verdict will tarnish their political future.