Parliament, not us, can bar tainted netas from contesting polls: SC

Times of India, February 19, 2015

The Supreme Court on Wednesday said the judiciary could not restrain tainted people from contesting elections as it could not enter the domain of the legislature, which alone was competent to enact a law on this issue.

A bench headed by Chief Justice H L Dattu said the idea of restraining people against whom a court had framed charges for committing heinous offences looked very “attractive and noble” but the court had its limitation and it could not pass such an order.

“In the name of judicial activism, we cannot enter into an area belonging to Parliament. Separation of power is a basic structure of Constitution and we must respect it,” the bench, also comprising Justices A K Sikri and Arun Mishra, said.

“It is for Parliament to decide. They know how to run the country and who should run for election. We should not step in,” it added.

Additional solicitor general Maninder Singh said the issue had already been settled by a constitution bench judgment of the apex court, which had refused to restrain the government from appointing tainted MPs and MLAs as ministers and left the matter to the conscience of the prime minister and chief ministers.

Agreeing with the ASG’s submission, the bench said when the constitution bench had refused to pass an order against appointment of tainted representatives in the council of ministers, how it could pass an order preventing tainted persons from contesting elections.

The bench also said that in criminal jurisprudence, a person was presumed innocent till he was convicted and his right to contest elections could not be curtailed just because charges were framed against him.

Senior advocate Dinesh Dwivedi, appearing for an NGO which had sought a ban on tainted people contesting elections, said the court could issue guidelines to stop growing criminalization of politics.

“You are right and it is the ideal situation. At first thought, it looks a very attractive and noble thought but on deeper consideration, we feel that we should not interfere and Parliament should take a call on it,” the court said. The arguments will continue on Thursday.

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