Supreme Court accepts amended RP Act

: Taking note of the amendment made to the Representation of the People Act treating persons in lawful custody in a criminal case as a voter, the Supreme Court on Tuesday gave a big relief to political parties by allowing them to contest elections.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S. J. Mukhopadhaya dismissed the review petitions filed by the Union government and Ramesh Dalal against a July 10 judgment upholding a 2004 Patna High Court ruling, which held that when a person in custody was disqualified to vote he was disqualified from contesting the elections also.

Section 62 (5) of the RP Act says, “No person shall vote at any election if he/she is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police: Provided that nothing in this sub- section shall apply to a person subjected to preventive detention under any law for the time being in force.”

Subsequent to the July 10 judgment, Parliament amended the RP Act and introduced a proviso to Section 62 (5) in the RP (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2013, which says “... by reasons of the prohibition to vote under this sub-section, a person whose name has been entered in the electoral roll shall not cease to be an elector.”

The notification said “notwithstanding anything contained in any judgment, decree or order of any court, tribunal or other authority, the provisions of the RP Act, 1951, as amended by this Act, shall have and shall be deemed always to have effect for all purposes as if the provisions of this Act had been in force at all material times.”

On Tuesday, during the resumed hearing, Additional Solicitor General L. Nageswara Rao and counsel V.K. Biju, appearing for the Centre, submitted that nothing survived in the petition in view of the amendments to the RP Act. Accepting the submissions, the Bench dismissed the review petitions as not necessary.

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