SC refuses to entertain plea against provision of RP Act which provides for automatic disqualification of convicted MPs/MLAs

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to entertain a petition challenging the validity of section 8 (3) of the Representation of the People Act which deals with automatic disqualification of MPs and state legislators upon being convicted and sentenced for two years or more in a criminal case.

The counsel for petitioner Aabha Murlidharan, who claimed she is a social activist, said section 8(3) of the RP Act is ultra vires the constitution since it curtails free speech of an elected member of parliament or member of a legislative assembly.

He told a bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala the provision restrains a lawmaker from freely discharging the duties cast upon them by the voters of their constituency.

“No, we will not entertain this petition. Let the aggrieved party come before us,” the bench told the lawyer.

“How are you as an individual affected? When you are disqualified due to the provision, then we can look into it. Not now. Either withdraw your petition or we will dismiss it. Sorry, we will only hear aggrieved person on the issue,” the court said.

Section 8 (3) says “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release”.

The plea said section 8(3) is in stark contradiction to sub-section (1) of other provisions of the RP Act itself.

It said factors such as nature, gravity, role, moral turpitude and the role of the accused ought to be examined while considering disqualification under the RP Act.

The petitioner said section 8 (3) provides for blanket automatic disqualification on the basis of sentencing and imprisonment, which is self-contradictory and creates ambiguity as to the proper procedure for disqualification.

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