New Delhi: The CPI(M) on Friday opposed the Supreme Court verdict putting a bar on a person in prison from contesting polls, saying it was a case of "judicial overreach" and should be "overturned" as it infringed democratic rights.
The major Left party also sought a review of the earlier apex court judgement regarding disqualification of an elected representative from the date of conviction by a court, saying it strikes down a section of the Representation of People Act (RPA) that allows a convicted lawmaker to continue membership for three months to file an appeal in a higher court.
In a statement, CPI(M) Politburo referred to the order of a two-member bench that a person who is in jail or in police custody cannot contest elections to legislative bodies.
It said this was "a drastic judgement which will infringe on the democratic rights of citizens. A person who is an undertrial prisoner, who is not convicted of any offence or a person who is in police custody without having faced a trial and conviction, will be deprived of the right to contest elections."
Maintaining that a number of false cases were "foisted on political activists", CPI(M) said there were also lakhs of undertrials languishing in jail "unjustly deprived of their basic liberties given the inefficiency and bias of the legal- judicial system. This judgement can lead to large-scale misuse."
"Ruling parties and governments can get people behind bars in order to prevent them from contesting elections. The judgement is a case of judicial overreach and requires to be overturned," it said.
On the earlier verdict by the same bench of the Supreme Court regarding immediate disqualification of an MP or MLA on being convicted of an offence, CPI(M) said it has struck down Section 8(4) of RPA that allows a convicted member to continue membership for three months for filing an appeal and get a stay on the conviction and the sentence. While CPI(M) termed the intention of the judgement to
remove persons convicted in serious criminal and corruption cases as "good and laudable", it said making Section 8(4) of the Act ultra vires of the Constitution posed "certain problems".
"Given the present state of the judicial system, conviction by a trial court is often set aside by a higher court on appeal. If a member is disqualified instantly and gets an acquittal later by a higher court, there will be no scope for redressal."
"It is necessary to look into this aspect and other issues raised by the judgement. Therefore, the judgement needs to be clarified by a review," the Left party said.