The Supreme Court on Monday refused urgent hearing on a plea raising questions like whether people facing trial in serious crime cases can be allowed to contest elections and at which stage of trial, a lawmaker would stand disqualified.
“We have already fixed three matters for disposal by a five-judge Constitution bench in summer vacation,” a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.
The observation came when Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, advocate and Delhi BJP spokesperson, sought setting up of a five-judge bench and disposal of the matter in the summer vacation.
“It is a very important issue for democracy in our country. I was assured by the court that a bench would be set up,” he said, adding that it will not take more than three days in concluding the hearing.“You cannot imagine how much time and efforts are needed in writing judgements,” the bench said while making it clear that setting up of a Constitution bench to decide the issue is not possible in the near future.
The apex court had on January 5 said it will soon constitute a Constitution bench to decide these issues, adding that it cannot give an immediate answer to these questions since there is a fear of lodging false cases in elections.
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A three-judge bench had on March 8 last year referred various PILs including the one filed by Upadhyay to the Chief Justice of India, saying questions like can a lawmaker facing criminal trial, be disqualified at conviction stage or at the framing of charge in a case have to be decided by a larger bench.
At present, a person, convicted in a serious criminal case, is barred from contesting polls and a lawmaker stands disqualified in the event of conviction.
The questions, raised in the petitions, also include whether a person against whom charges are framed be permitted to contest elections.
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Besides Upadhyay, former Chief Election Commissioner J M Lyngdoh and NGO ‘Public Interest Foundation’ had filed PILs raising similar issues. The pleas were referred to the larger bench which is yet to be set up.