NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court has dismissed Centre’s plea seeking review of its judgment debarring arrested persons from contesting polls, saying it is not necessary to look into the issue in view of amendment in law by Parliament. The apex court, however, said that the issue of constitutional validity of the amendment will be considered separately after an NGO Lok Prahri opposed Centre’s petition and said it has challenged the amendment in Representation of People Act in this regard.

“You challenge it. It will be separately considered,” a bench of justices AK Patnaik and SJ Mukhopadhyay said. “As a consequence of amendment a person does not cease to be elector only by reason of his being in police custody or in imprisonment. Therefore, he can contest election to state legislature as well as Parliament,” the bench said in its order. It initially said the review plea of Centre has become infructuous in view of the amendment but it passed the order saying the plea is dismissed after the NGO pressed for the word dismissal. The apex court in its judgment on July 10 had held that a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest election to legislative bodies, bringing to an end an era of under trial politicians fighting polls from behind bars.

It said that only a voter can contest election and a person in police custody has no right to vote. Negating the apex court order, Parliament in September passed a bill that maintains the right of those in jail to contest polls, with the government saying the court verdict was wrong and the Legislature has Constitutional duty to correct it. The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 was rushed through in the Lok Sabha and passed within about 15 minutes after a brief discussion. The Bill was passed by Rajya Sabha on August 27. The Amendment Bill seeks to add a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as his or her right is only temporarily suspended.

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