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Report No. 170

Part V

Proposal regarding framing of charges by courts as a new ground for disqualification

5.1. In the working paper, the Law Commission had suggested amendment of Section 8 of the R.P. Act. Section 8 provides for disqualification on conviction for certain offences. It has four sub-sections. Sub-section (1) sets out certain specific offences, the conviction under which shall disquality the candidate for a period of six years from the date of such conviction. Sub-section (2) refers to certain offences subject-wise and says that any person convicted for such offences and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than six months, shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since he is released.

Sub-section (3) is in the nature of a 'residuary' provision. It says that a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than 2 years (other than an offence referred to in sub-section (1) or sub-section (2) shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since he is released.

Sub-section (4) provides that disqualification falling under sub-section (1), 92) and (3) shall not take effect in the case of a person, who, on the date of conviction is a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.(It is not necessary to refer to the provisions of the Explanation appended to the section).

The Law Commission had proposed that in respect of offences provided in sub-section (1) (except the offence mentioned in clause (b) of sub-section (1), a mere framing of charge should serve as a disqualification. This provision was sought to be made in addition to existing provision which provides for disqualification arising on account of conviction. The reason for this proposal was that most of the offences mentioned in sub-section (1) are either election offences or serious offences affecting the society and that the persons committing these offences are mostly persons having political clout and influence.

Very often these elements are supported by unsocial persons or groups of persons, with the result that no independent witness is prepared to come forward to depose against such persons. In such a situation, it is providing extremely difficult to obtain conviction of these persons. It was suggested that inasmuch as charge were framed by a court on the basis of the material placed before it by the prosecution including the material disclosed by the charge-sheet, providing for disqualification on the ground of framing of the charge-sheet would be neither unjust nor unreasonable or arbitrary.

5.1.1. The Law Commission further suggested that several election offences mentioned in the Act as well as in the Indian Penal Code provided for ridiculously inadequate punishment. We had expressed the opinion that several electoral offences contained in the R.P. Act and in the IPC were of a serious nature and, therefore, suggested that all these offences should provide for punishment upto three years or more. The detailed proposals have been detailed in the working paper.

Reform of The Electoral Laws Back

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