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EC for life ban on the convicted

The Election Commission (EC) took a definitive stand in the Supreme Court that convicted persons should be banned from contesting elections for life.

While the government showed reluctance to make a commitment, the Commission reiterated its stand before a Bench led by Justice Ranjan Gogoi that such a move would be a firm step against criminalisation of politics.

Noting that it has been “championing the cause of decriminalisation of politics”, the EC, in March, endorsed a public interest litigation petition in the Supreme Court seeking life-long bar on convicted legislators from contesting polls.

It had said that a uniform ban would be in the spirit of the fundamental rights of the Constitution, including the right to equality.

As of now, a person, on conviction, is debarred from contesting any elections for the period of his or her prison sentence and six years thereafter.

The affidavit said the Commission was “alive to the issues that concern the conduct of free and fair elections and functioning of healthy democracy and as such asserting for bringing in electoral reforms which further the cause of free and fair elections”.

The Commission said it had submitted a proposal for poll reforms, which include decriminalisation of politics, making bribery a cognisable offence and prohibition on advertisements 48 hours before elections and a ban on paid news as recommended by the Law Commission in its reports.