New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday said it was for elected representatives to take a call at what stage of proceedings a person facing criminal charges should be barred from contesting elections and the courts could not issue directions to the legislature and intrude in its domain.
A bench of Chief Justice H.L.Dattu, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice Arun Mishra said this as senior counsel Rakesh Dwivedi appearing for NGO Public Interest Foundation contended that a person against whom criminal charges have been framed by the court should be debarred from contesting elections.
"This is for the representatives of the people to decide. We can't issue directions to legislature. They know how to run the country in a democratic manner," Chief Justice Dattu observed as Dwivedi pressed the plea that the framing of charges should be stage where a person facing criminal trial should be barred from contesting elections.
He said that this was also a stage where there was an judicial application of mind by the court before framing the charges.
"We should not be stepping into an area" earmarked for the legislature, the court said asking if it could issue direction to the parliament to legislate on barring the people against whom criminal charges have been framed.
"In the name of judicial activism we can't step in the arena earmarked for the law makers and legislature. Lines are marked demarcating the roles (of three organs of state)," the court said as the NGO urged the court to take recourse to its power under the constitution to issue direction to the Election Commission to bar people charged with criminal offences from contesting elections.
"Your submissions on the first thought look very very attractive. What a noble thought is this. But after a deeper consideration, no," Chief Justice Dattu said, adding: "We are bound by the decision of the constitution bench" which bars court's from issuing directions to legislature.
As Dwivedi pressed his plea, the court asked him: "What is the medium you want us to adopt... What you expect this court to do, tell us in nutshell."
Dwivedi told the court that it should direct the poll panel to reject the nomination papers of a candidate against whom charges have been framed and also ask the central government to consider the issue seriously.
At this, the court said: "It is not for us to say what is good governance. It is for them to see. It is not for us to advise the government what to do or not to do... It is left to them why a person with criminal antecedents is not to be made a minister."
Appearing for the central government, Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh told the court that disqualifications are mentioned in the Representation of People Act and court should not interfere with it and rewrite the law.
"You can't add further disqualifications," he told the court.
The hearing will continue on Thursday.