SC refuses to disqualify tainted ministers, leaves it to PM’s wisdom

NEW DELHI (TIP): The Supreme Court on August 27 dismissed a petition seeking disqualification of Cabinet ministers with criminal cases against them. A five-judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice R M Lodha, delivering its verdict, said it would leave the decision to keep or sack ministers to the Prime Minister’s wisdom.

This effectively means that if such tainted netas can continue in the government till the prime minister decides to sack them. The Supreme Court, however, said that the prime minister and the chief ministers should not include people with criminal antecedents in their Cabinet. “Those in conflict with law and involved in offences of moral turpitude and corruption should not be allowed to discharge duty as ministers,” the Bench said.

The Centre had argued that removing ministers is against the Constitutional prerogative of Parliament and the will of the people, and that “once a person is an MP, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers, if the prime minister so decides.” The Narendra Modi Cabinet at the Centre has 14 ministers with police cases against them.

Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti has 13 cases against her, Road Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari, Upendra Kushwaha and Raosaheb Dadarao Danve have four cases each against them. Refusing to disqualify tainted netas, the Supreme Court said that, “No disqualification can be prescribed. It is expected that the PM will not appoint persons against whom charges have been framed and he is facing trial.

The PM and Chief Ministers should decide.” Constitution reposes immense trust in PM and CMs and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality said the court. The actual case dates back to 2004, when a petitioner sought the removal of Lalu Prasad Yadav, Mohammed Taslimuddin, MAA Fatmi and Jai Prakash Yadav from the then Congress-led UPA government. His plea was dismissed and later taken up for review by the country’s five senior most judges.

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