New Delhi: The Centre has opposed the life ban on convicted politicians from contesting MP/MLA elections, forming a political party or becoming an office bearer of a party, telling the Supreme Court that the life ban on bureaucrats cannot be equated with similar ban on lawmakers, if convicted in a crime, as the latter are not bound by service conditions, but an oath of office instead.
An affidavit filed by the Ministry of Law and Justice said: "It is stated that there are no specific service conditions laid down in respect of elected representative albeit, the fact that the people's representatives are public servants. The elected representatives are ordinarily bound by the oath that they have taken, to serve the citizens of their constituency in particular and the country in general."
The Centre said the public servants are debarred from their service for lifetime if convicted of offence punishable under provisions of various laws, but a legislator, who is disqualified for an offence, only for a period specified in the Representation of Peoples Act.
The affidavit added that lawmakers' conduct is bound by propriety, good conscience and they are expected to generally work in the interest of the nation, and they are not above the law.
"In so far, as the conditions of service of public servants, not being elected representatives, is concerned, the same is regulated by their respective service laws, including retirement rules etc. Thus, there is no justification for the challenge to vires of the said provision of the Representation of Peoples Act," said the affidavit.
The response has come on a plea by advocate Ashwini Upadhyay who amended the prayer of the application urging the Supreme Court to issue direction to Centre to debar the convicted persons uniformly from legislature, executive and judiciary for life in spirit of Article 14 read with Article 15 and 16 of the Constitution.
The affidavit, opposing the amendment, said the petitioner is now seeking to declare the vires of Section 8(1)(ii), 8(2) & 8 (3) of the Representation of Peoples Act and sever the same from Section 9 (1) of the said Act.
"It is submitted that the application for amendment is devoid of any merits and does not justify the challenge to the vires of the statutory provisions under Representation of the People Act, 1951", said the affidavit.
The Centre has emphasised that the amendment application does not indicate existence of any conclusive and factual material to substantiate the contention. Therefore, it should be dismissed.
On September 10, the apex court had sought to know the Centre's stand on a plea seeking lifetime ban on convicted criminals contesting any elections.