Former CECs welcome apex court judgement

Former Chief Election Commissioners of India welcomed the Supreme Court ruling that MPs, MLAs will be disqualified from date of their conviction by any court.

New Delhi: Former Chief Election Commissioners of India on Wednesday welcomed the Supreme Court ruling that MPs, MLAs will be disqualified from the date of their conviction by any court and said it will help reform the political system in the country.

MS Gill, who was Chief Election Commissioner for six years and conducted three General Elections, said it will make Indian democracy "better".

"I welcome the judgement of the Supreme Court because it will certainly help make the Indian democracy better," Gill told a news agency, adding he had pushed for many reforms to clean up the system, including this one.

Another former CEC N Gopalaswami said, "It is a welcome judgment. It will define the way tickets are distributed the next time".

Terming it as yet another landmark judgment, another former CEC SY Quraishi said, "This judgment will have serious and far-reaching implications for cleansing India`s political system."

He described the Supreme Court for being the "greatest protector of India`s democratic process" and said criminalisation of politics has been a serious national issue.

Quraishi said the earlier Supreme Court order brought in transparency in the system making filing of affidavits of details of criminal and financial background compulsory for all candidates to cleanse the political system.

Navin Chawla, another former CEC, also termed the judgment as one in the right direction that would help in cleansing the political system.

"This is definitely a step in the right direction," he said.

Some other CECs, including TN Seshan and BB Tandon, did not comment, saying they had yet to go through the judgement.

The Election Commission has in its reports from time to time been seeking amendment of the law for removal of the incumbent advantage to elected MPs and MLAs convicted of various offences. Chawla said since 1998, the Election Commission has been writing to successive governments that there should be some ban on criminals entering Parliament and state legislatures as their members.

"The Election Commission had given a formula that anyone convicted for a heinous offence punishable for five years and more should be debarred until he or she was proven innocent because the EC considered it a reasonable restriction," Chawla said.

He said by striking down Section 8 (4) of the Representation of People Act, the discrimination in favour of an MP or MLA has been removed with prospective effect.