[BREAKING] Supreme Court seeks response from Centre, ECI in plea to debar candidates disqualified under Xth schedule from contesting by-elections

Importantly, it was submitted that a member of the House who voluntarily gives up the membership of a political party also comes under the preview of the 10th Schedule and is hence amenable to disqualification.
[BREAKING] Supreme Court seeks response from Centre, ECI in plea to debar candidates disqualified under Xth schedule from contesting by-elections
Election Commission

The Supreme Court on Thursday sought the response of the Central government and the Election Commission of India (ECI) in a plea seeking directions to debar candidates disqualified as members of the House under the Xth Schedule of the Constitution from re-contesting by-elections during the term of the House to which they were elected.

The petition by Congress leader from Madhya Pradesh, Jaya Thakur sought implementation of Article 191(1) (e) of the Constitution read with para 2 of the Xth Schedule in this regard.

"Once a member of the House incurs disqualification under the Xth Schedule, he cannot be permitted to contest again during the term for which he was elected. Article 172 makes a membership of a House co terminus with the term of 5 years of the House except in circumstances mentioned there in," the plea stated.

Importantly, Thakur submitted that a member of the House who voluntarily gives up the membership of a political party also comes under the preview of the 10th Schedule and is hence amenable to disqualification under Article 191(1) (e) of the Constitution of India.

The petition pointed out the recent trend across the country by political parties to render the provisions of Xth Schedule redundant and otiose by making ruling party MLAs resign from the House leading to the fall of the government. The MLAs who resign are then given ministerial posts by new government and are also given tickets to re-contest for by-elections.

In this regard, the petitioner highlighted the examples of Manipur, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh.

"In the State of Karnataka, 17 MLAs who resigned/were disqualified by the Speaker for anti party activities, sought re-election and 11 of them got re- elected. Ten of them got ministerial berths in the new Government that was formed after the earlier government fell. Recently, in the State of Madhya Pradesh MLAs elected to the Assembly from one party resigned and defected and were immediately made ministers without being MLAs," the petition said.

Thakur submitted that once the Xth Schedule comes into play and a seat falls vacant due to disqualification then that particular disqualified member of the House has to incur disability under Article 191 (1) (e ) and should be debarred from being chosen again during the term for which he/she was elected.

"The phraseology of para 2 of the Xth Schedule makes this clear by use of the words “disqualified for being a member of the House.” The term of the House (Parliament or Assembly) is for 5 years. “The House” means the particular House in question of which the term is 5 years in normal circumstances," the petition stated.

The petitioner also contended that political parties are indulging in horse trading and corrupt practices, due to which citizens are denied a stable government and such undemocratic practices need to be curbed.

"We need to keep in mind that the separating line between dissent and defection requires to be made apparent, so that democratic values are upheld in balance with other constitutional considerations," the petition stated.

A Bench that comprised Chief Justice of India SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian issued notice in the matter returnable in 4 weeks.

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