SC on Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951


Two  writ  petitions   have   been   filed  as  Public Interest Litigation for  mainly declaring sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 as ultra vires the Constitution.

The background facts

The background  facts  relevant  for   appreciating the challenge  to sub-section (4)   of  Section 8 of  the Act  are that   the   Constituent    Assembly    while   drafting    the Constitution intended  to lay  down some  disqualifications for  persons being  chosen as, and for  being,  a member of either  House of  Parliament  as  well as  a  member  of  the Legislative Assembly  or  Legislative  Council of  the State. Accordingly,  in the Constitution which was finally adopted by the Constituent Assembly, Article 102(1) laid down the disqualifications   for    membership   of    either   House   of Parliament   and  Article   191(1)  laid  down  the disqualifications    for     membership    of     the   Legislative Assembly or  Legislative  Council of  the State.  These two Articles are extracted hereinbelow:

102.Disqualifications for membership. –(1) A person shall be disqualified for  being chosen as, and for being,   a  member of   either House  of Parliament—

(a) if he holds  any office of  profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared  by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder;

(b) if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;

(c) if he is an undischarged insolvent;

(d) if he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment  of  allegiance or adherence to a foreign State;

(e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.

191. Disqualifications for membership.– (1) A person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of  the Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State—

(a) if he holds any office of profit under the  Government of  India  or the Government of any State specified in the irst Schedule, other  than  an office declared by the Legislature of  the State by law not to disqualify its holder;

(b) if he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court;

(c)  if he is an undischarged insolvent;

(d) if he is not a citizen of  India, or  has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of  a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment  of  allegiance  or adherence to a foreign State;

(e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.

Explanation.—For the  purposes  of  this clause], a person shall not be deemed to hold an office of  profit under  the Government of  India or the Government of any State specified in the First Schedule by reason only that he is a Minister  either  for  the Union or  for  such State.

A  reading  of  the aforesaid  constitutional  provisions  will show  that  besides  the  disqualifications   laid  down  in clauses (a), (b), (c)  and (d), Parliament  could  lay  down by law other disqualifications for  membership of either House of   Parliament  or of Legislative Assembly r Legislative Council of  the State.  In exercise of  this power conferred under Article 102(1)(e) and under Article 191(1)(e) of  the Constitution, Parliament provided in Chapter-III of the Representation  of   the People  Act,  1951  (for   short  ‘the Act’),  the disqualifications  for  membership  of  Parliament and State Legislatures.  Sections  7 and  8 in Chapter-III  of the  Act, with which we are concerned in these writ petitions, are extracted herein below:

7. Definitions.—In this Chapter,—

(a) “appropriate Government” means in relation to any disqualification for  being chosen as  or   for   being  a  member of either  House of  Parliament,  the Central

Government, and in relation to any disqualification for being  chosen as or for being a member of the Legislative Assembly   or Legislative Council of a State, the State Government;

(b) “disqualified” means  disqualified  for being   chosen  as,   and for being, a member of either House of Parliament or of the  Legislative Assembly  or Legislative Council of a State.

8. Disqualification on conviction for certain offences.—  (1)   A  person convicted  of  an offence punishable under—

(a) section  153A (offence of  promoting enmity   between  different   groups   on ground of  religion, race,  place  of  birth, residence,  language,   etc.,  and  doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony) or  section 171E (offence of bribery)   or    section   171F  (offence  of undue  influence  or   personation at  an election)   or    sub-section   (1)    or    sub- section  (2)   of   section  376  or   section
376A or  section 376B or  section 376C or section 376D (offences relating  to rape) or    section   498A  (offence   of    cruelty towards a woman by husband or  relative of  a husband) or  sub-section  (2)  or  sub- section  (3)   of   section  505  (offence of making statement creating or  promoting enmity, hatred or  ill-will between classes or  offence relating to such statement in any place of  worship or  in any assembly engaged in the performance of  religious worship or  religious  ceremonies)  of  the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860); or

(b)  the  Protection  of   Civil   Rights  Act,
1955 (22 of 1955) which provides for punishment    for     the   preaching    and practice of  “untouchability”, and for  the enforcement of any disability arising therefrom; or

(c)   section 11 (offence of  importing  or exporting prohibited  goods) of  the Customs Act, 1962 (52 of 1962); or

(d) sections 10 to 12 (offence of being a member of  an association declared unlawful, offence relating to dealing with funds   of    an   unlawful   association    or offence relating  to contravention of  an order   made   in  respect  of   a  notified place) of  the  Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (37 of 1967); or

(e)  the  Foreign  Exchange  (Regulation) Act, 1973 (46 of 1973); or

(f)  the  Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985 (61 of 1985); or

(g) section 3 (offence of committing terrorist  acts) or   section  4  (offence of committing disruptive activities) of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987 (28 of 1987); or

(h) section  7 (offence of  contravention of  the provisions  of  sections 3 to 6)  of the  Religious Institutions  (Prevention of Misuse) Act, 1988 (41 of 1988); or

(i)   section  125  (offence  of   promoting enmity  between  classes  in  connection  with   the    election)    or     section    135 (offence  of   removal   of   ballot   papers from  polling stations)   or   section  135A

(offence  of   booth  capturing)  of   clause (a)  of   sub-section  (2)  of   section  136 (offence of fraudulently defacing or fraudulently  destroying  any nomination paper) of this Act; [or]

[(j)  section 6 (offence of  conversion of  a place   of    worship)   of    the  Places   of Worship (Special Provisions) Act, 1991], [or]

[(k)   section  2 (offence of  insulting  the Indian  National Flag or  the Constitution of    India)    or     section   3   (offence   of preventing  singing  of  National Anthem) of  the Prevention of  Insults  to National Honour Act, 1971 (69 of 1971), [or]

[(l)  the  Commission of  Sati (Prevention) Act, 1987 (3 of 1988); or]

[(m) the  Prevention of   Corruption  Act,
1988 (49 of 1988); or]

[(n)  the  Prevention  of   Terrorism  Act,
2002 (15 of 2002),]
[shall  be  disqualified,  where  the convicted person is sentenced to—

(i)  only  fine,  for   a period  of  six   years from the date of such conviction;

(ii)  imprisonment,  from the date of  such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified  for   a  further  period  of   six years since his release.]

(2)   A  person  convicted  for   the contravention of—

(a) any law providing for  the prevention of hoarding or  profiteering; or

(b) any law relating  to the adulteration of food or  drugs; or

(c)   any  provisions  of  the Dowry Prohibition Act, 1961 (28 of  1961); 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  his release.]

(3)   A  person convicted  of  any offence and sentenced to imprisonment  for  not less   than  two  years  [other  than  any 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  his release.]

[(4)] Notwithstanding  anything  [in  sub- section   (1),   sub-section   (2)    or    sub- section   (3)]  a   disqualification    under either  subsection shall  not,  in the  case of   a  person  who on  the  date  of   the conviction is a member  of  Parliament or the Legislature  of   a State, take effect 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 the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.

Explanation. —In this section, —

(a) “law providing for  the prevention of hoarding or profiteering” means  any law,  or   any  order,  rule  or   notification having the force of law, providing for—

(I)   the regulation of  production or manufacture of any essential commodity;
(II)    the control  of  price  at  which any essential     commodity     may    be bought or  sold;
(III) the  regulation   of   acquisition, possession, storage, transport, distribution, disposal, use or consumption of any essential commodity;
(IV)   the  prohibition  of   the withholding from  sale   of   any  essential commodity ordinarily kept for  sale;

(b) “drug” has the meaning  assigned to it in the Durgs and Cosmetics Act,  1940 (23 of 1940);

(c)     “essential    commodity”    has   the meaning  assigned to it in the  Essential Commodity Act, 1955 (10 of 1955);

(d) “food” has the meaning  assigned to it in the Prevention of  Food Adulteration Act, 1954 (37 of 1954).

3.     Clause  (b)  of   Section  7  of   the  Act  quoted  above defines  the  word “disqualified”  to  mean  disqualified  for being chosen as, and for  being, a member of either House of    Parliament   or    of    the   Legislative   Assembly   or    of Legislative Council of  State.   Sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of  Section 8 of  the Act  provide  that a person convicted  of

an  offence  mentioned  in any  of  these sub-sections shall stand  disqualified  from the  date  of   conviction  and  the disqualification was to continue for  the specific period mentioned  in the sub-section.   However, sub-section  (4)  of Section  8   of    the  Act   provides   that  notwithstanding anything  in sub-section  (1), sub-section (2) or  sub-section (3)  in Section 8 of  the Act, a disqualification under either subsection shall  not, in the  case  of  a person who on the date of  the conviction is a member  of  Parliament  or  the Legislature of a State,  take effect 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  the sentence, until that appeal or  application is disposed of  by the court.  It is this saving or  protection provided  in sub-section  (4)   of  Section  8 of  the  Act for  a member of  Parliament  or  the Legislature  of  a State which is challenged in these writ petitions as ultra vires the Constitution.

Contentions on behalf of the Petitioners

4.     Mr.   Fali   S.    Nariman,     learned     Senior     Counsel appearing  for   the  petitioner  in Writ  Petition  No. 490  of

2005  and  Mr. S.N. Shukla,  the  General  Secretary of  the Petitioner in Writ  Petition No. 231 of  2005, submitted  that the opening words of clause (1) of Articles 102 and 191 of the     Constitution     make     it    clear    that     the     same disqualifications are provided for  a person being chosen as a  member of   either  House  of   Parliament,  or   the State Assembly  or   Legislative  Council of   the  State and for   a person being a member of either House of Parliament or  of the  Legislative Assembly or  Legislative  Council of  a State and  therefore  the  disqualifications  for   a  person to  be elected  as a member of  either  House of  the Parliament  or of  the  Legislative Assembly  or  Legislative  Council of  the State and for  a person to continue  as a member of  either House of Parliament or of the Legislative Assembly or Legislative  Council of  the State cannot be different.    In support   of     this     submission,     Mr.    Nariman     cited   a
Constitution   Bench   judgment   of   this   Court   in   Election  Commission, India v. Saka Venkata Rao  (AIR 1953 SC 210) in  which it has  been  held  that Article  191 lays  down the same set of  disqualifications  for   election  as  well as  for
continuing  as a member.   Mr.  Nariman  and  Mr. Shukla

submitted  that  sub-section (4) of  Section 8 of  the Act, insofar as  it provides that the disqualification under sub- sections (1), (2)  and (3) of Section 8 for  being elected as a member of  either  House of  Parliament  or  the Legislative Assembly  or   Legislative  Council of  State shall  not take effect in the case of  a person who is already  a member of Parliament  or   Legislature  of  a State on the date of  the conviction  if he files an appeal  or  a revision  in respect of the conviction or  the sentence within three  months till the appeal or revision is disposed of by the Court,   is in contravention of  the provisions  of  clause (1)   of  Articles
102 and 191 of the Constitution.

5.     Mr. Shukla referred to the debates of the Constituent Assembly  on Article  83 of  the  Draft Constitution,  which corresponds to Article  102 of  the Constitution.    In  these debates, Mr. Shibban Lal  Saksena, a member of  the Constituent  Assembly  moved an Amendment  No. 1590 on
19.05.1949 to provide  that when a person who, by virtue of  conviction  becomes disqualified  and  is on the  date  of disqualification  a member of  Parliament,  his  seat shall,
notwithstanding    anything   in   this   Article,   not  become

vacant by reason of the disqualification until three  months have elapsed  from the  date  thereof  or,  if  within  those three months an appeal  or  petition for  revision  is brought in  respect of  the conviction  or   the sentence, until  that appeal  or  petition  is disposed  of, but  during  any period during   which   his   membership   is   preserved   by   this provision, he shall  not sit or  vote.    Mr. Shukla  submitted that this amendment to Article 83 of the Draft Constitution was not adopted in the Constituent Assembly.   Instead, in sub-clause (e) of  clause (1)  of  Articles 102 and 191 of  the Constitution, it was provided  that Parliament  may make a law providing disqualifications besides those mentioned in sub-clauses (a), (b), (c)  and (d) for  a person being  chosen as, and for  being, a member of either House of Parliament and of the Legislative Assembly or  Legislative Council of a State.  Mr. Shukla  submitted that despite the fact that a provision similar to sub-section  (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act was   not   incorporated    in   the    Constitution    by   the Constituent Assembly, Parliament has enacted sub-section
(4)  of Section 8 of the Act.

6.     According  to  Mr. Nariman  and   Mr. Shukla,  in  the absence  of   a  provision  in  Articles  102 and  191  of   the Constitution  conferring  power  on  Parliament  to make a provision protecting sitting members  of  either  House of Parliament or  the  Legislative Assembly or  the Legislative Council of  a State, from the disqualifications  it lays  down for  a person being chosen as a member of Parliament or  a State Legislature,  Parliament  lacks  legislative  powers to enact  sub-section (4)   of  Section 8 of  the   Act  and   sub- section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the  Act is therefore  ultra vires the Constitution.

7.     Mr. Nariman  next submitted  that the legal  basis of sub-section  (4) of  Section 8 of  the   Act  is  based  on an earlier judicial view in the judgment of a Division Bench of
this  Court in Shri Manni Lal   v. Shri Parmal Lal and Others

[(1970) 2 SCC  462] that when a conviction  is set aside by an appellate order of  acquittal, the acquittal takes effect retrospectively  and the conviction  and the sentence are deemed to be set aside from the date they are recorded.
He   submitted   that   in   B.R. Kapur   v.   State of T.N. and Another [(2001) 7 SCC  231] a Constitution Bench of  thisCourt reversed  the  aforesaid  judicial view and  held  that conviction,  and the sentence it carries,  operate against the accused in all their rigour until set aside in appeal, and a  disqualification   that  attaches  to  the  conviction   and sentence applies  as  well.   He submitted  that this  later view has  been  reiterated by a Constitution Bench of  this Court in K. Prabhakaran  v. P. Jayarajan etc. [(2005) 1 SCC
754].  Mr. Nariman argued that thus as soon as a person is convicted of any of the offences mentioned in sub-sections (1),  (2)   and  (3)  of   Section  8  of   the  Act,  he  becomes disqualified from continuing as a member of Parliament or of a State Legislature notwithstanding the fact that he has filed an  appeal  or  a revision  against  the conviction  and there  is no legal basis for  providing in sub-section (4)  of Section 8 of  the  Act that his disqualification will  not take effect if he files an appeal or  revision within three  months against the order of conviction.   He submitted that in case a sitting member of  Parliament or  State Legislature feels aggrieved  by the conviction  and wants to continue as a member notwithstanding  the conviction,  his  remedy  is to
move  the  Appellate    Court  for    stay  of    the  order  of

conviction.   He cited the decision in Navjot Singh Sidhu  v. State of Punjab and Another ([2007) 2 SCC  574] in which this   Court  has   clarified  that   under   sub-section   (1)    of Section  389  of   the  Code  of   Criminal  Procedure,  1973 power has been conferred on the Appellate Court not only to suspend the execution of  the sentence and to grant bail,   but  also   to  suspend  the  operation  of   the  order appealed  against,  which means  the  order  of  conviction. He  submitted  that   in  appropriate  cases,  the  Appellate Court may stay the order of conviction of a sitting member of   Parliament   or    State  Legislature   and   allow  him  to continue as a member notwithstanding  the conviction  by the trial  court, but a blanket  provision like sub-section  (4) of Section 8 of the Act cannot be made to keep the disqualification pursuant to conviction in abeyance till  the appeal   or    revision   is   decided   by  the   Appellate   or Revisional Court.

8. Mr. Nariman and Mr.Shukla submitted   that   in   K.Prabhakaran v. P. Jayarajan etc. (supra) the validity of sub- section (4)  of Section 8 of the  Act was not under challenge
and only a reference  was made to the Constitution Bench of   this  Court  on  certain  questions   which  arose  in  civil appeals  against  judgments  delivered  by the High Court in election  cases under the Act.    They  submitted  that the Constitution  Bench of  this  Court framed  three  questions with  regard   to   disqualification   of    a  candidate   under Section 8 of  the Act and  while  answering  question  no.3, the  Constitution Bench indicated  reasons which seem  to have persuaded Parliament  to classify sitting members of the House into  a separate category and to provide  in sub- section  (4)  of   Section 8  of   the   Act  that if  such  sitting members  file  appeal  or   revision  against  the conviction within three  months,  then  the  disqualification  on account of  their conviction will  not take  effect until the  appeal or revision   is  decided   by  the   appropriate   court.     They submitted  that  the  opinion expressed by the Constitution
Bench of  this  Court in K. Prabhakaran  v. P. Jayarajan etc.

(supra)   regarding   the   purpose  for    which   Parliament classified  sitting members of  Parliament  and State Legislatures  into  a separate category and protected them from the disqualifications  by the saving  provision in sub-
section (4) of Section 8 of the  Act are  obiter  dicta  and are not binding ratio on the issue of the validity of sub-section

(4)  of Section 8 of the Act.

9.     Mr.  Nariman  and   Mr.  Shukla  submitted  that  sub- section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act, in so far as it does not provide a rationale for  making an exception  in the case  of members  of   Parliament  or   a  Legislature  of   a  State is arbitrary and discriminatory and is violative of Article 14 of the   Constitution.     They  submitted  that  persons  to  be elected as members of  Parliament or  a State Legislature stand   on   the   same   footing  as   sitting   members   of Parliament   and  State  Legislatures   so  far  as disqualifications  are  concerned and  sitting members  of Parliament and State Legislatures cannot enjoy the special privilege of  continuing as members even though they are convicted  of  the  offences  mentioned  in sub-sections  (1), (2)  and (3) of Section 8 of the Act.

Contentions of behalf of the respondents

10.   Mr. Siddharth Luthra, learned ASG  appearing for  the Union of  India in Writ Petition (C)  231 of  2005, submitted that  the validity of  sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act
has been upheld by the Constitution Bench of this Court in

K. Prabhakaran  v. P. Jayarajan etc. (supra).  He submitted that   while  answering   question  no.3,  the  Constitution Bench has held  in Prabhakaran’s  case that the purpose of carving out a saving in sub-section  (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act is not to confer an advantage  on sitting members of Parliament  or   of  a State Legislature  but to protect the House.  He submitted that  in para 58 of  the judgment the Constitution Bench has explained  that if a member of  the House  was  debarred   from  sitting   in  the   House   and participating  in the proceedings, no sooner the conviction was  pronounced  followed by sentence of  imprisonment, entailing  forfeiture  of  his  membership,  then two consequences   would    follow:   first,    the   strength   of membership of the House shall stand reduced, so also the strength of   the  political  party  to  which  such  convicted member may belong  and  the  Government  in power may be  surviving  on  a  razor-edge  thin  majority  where each member  counts  significantly and  disqualification  of  even one  member  may  have  a  deleterious   effect  on  the functioning   of   the  Government; second,  a  bye-election
shall  have to be held  which exercise  may  prove  to  befutile, also  resulting  in complications  in the  event  of  the convicted member being acquitted by a superior criminal court.   Mr. Luthra  submitted  that for   the aforesaid  two reasons, Parliament has classified the sitting members of Parliament  or  a State Legislature  in a separate category and provided in sub-section  (4)  of Section 8 of the Act that if  on the date of  incurring  disqualification,  a person  is a member  of   Parliament  or   of   a  State Legislature,  such disqualification shall not take effect for  a period of  three months from the  date  of  such disqualification  to enable the  sitting  member  to file appeal  or  revision  challenging his  conviction,  and sentence  and if  such an  appeal  or revision  is filed, then  applicability of  the disqualification shall  stand  deferred  until  such  appeal  or      revision  is disposed of by the appropriate Court.

11.   Mr. Luthra  next   submitted  that  the  reality  of   the Indian judicial system  is that acquittals in the levels of the Appellate  Court such as the High Court are very high  and it is for  this reason that Parliament has provided in sub- section  (4)   of  Section 8 of  the   Act  that disqualification
pursuant to conviction  or  sentence in the  case  of  sitting members should  stand deferred  till  the appeal  or  revision is decided  by the  Appellate  or  the  Revisional Court.   He submitted that the power to legislate on disqualification of members   of     Parliament    and   the   State   Legislature conferred  on  Parliament   carries   with  it  the   incidental power to say when the disqualification will take effect.  He submitted that the source of legislative power for  enacting sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the  Act is, therefore, very much there in Articles 101(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution and if not in these articles of the Constitution, in Article 246(1) read with Entry 97 of List I of the Seventh Schedule   of   the   Constitution  and  Article   248  of   the Constitution,   which   confer   powers   on   Parliament   to legislate  on any matter not enumerated in List II and List III of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution.

12.   Mr.  Paras   Kuhad,  learned  ASG,  appearing  for   the Union  of  India  in  Writ  Petition  (C)  No.490  of  2005 also relied  on the judgment  of  the  Constitution Bench of  this Court in K.Prabhakaran v. P.Jayarajanetc. (supra) on the validity of  sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act  and the
reasoning   given   in  the  answer  to  question  no.3  in  the aforesaid  judgment  of  this  Court.   He further  submitted that sub-section (4) of  Section 8 of  the  Act does not lay down disqualifications for  members of  Parliament and the State Legislatures different from the disqualifications laid down for  persons to be chosen as members of  Parliament and the State Legislatures  in sub-sections (1), (2)  and (3) of  Section 8 of the Act.   He submitted  that sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the  Act merely provides that the very same disqualifications  laid down in sub-sections (1), (2)  and (3) of Section 8 of the Act shall in the case of sitting members of  Parliament  and State Legislatures  take effect only after the appeal or  revision is disposed of  by the Appellate or Revisional  Court  as  the  case   may  be  if  an  appeal  or revision is filed against the conviction. He submitted that Parliament has power under Article 102(1)(e) of  the Constitution and  Article  191(1)(e) of  the  Constitution to prescribe  when exactly the  disqualification  will  become effective  in the  case  of  sitting members of  Parliament  or the State Legislature with a view to protect the House.  He also  referred  to the provisions  of  Articles  101(3)(a) and
190 (3)(a) of  the Constitution  to argue that a member of Parliament  or  a State Legislature will  vacate a seat only when   he   becomes   subject    to   any   disqualification mentioned  in clause  (1)   of  Article  102 or   clause  (1) of Article  191, as the case may be, and this  will happen only after  a decision is taken  by the President  or  the Governor that the member has become disqualified  in accordance with the mechanism  provided  in Article  103 or  Article  192 of the Constitution.

13.     Mr. Kuhad  further submitted  that  Mr. Nariman  is not right  in his  submission  that the remedy of  a sitting member  who is convicted or  sentenced and gets disqualified   under  sub-sections  (1),  (2)    or   (3)  of Section 8 of  the  Act is to move the Appellate Court under Section 389 of  the Code of  Criminal Procedure for   stay of   his  conviction.     He  submitted  that the Appellate   Court  does  not  have  any  power  under Section 389, Cr.P.C. to stay the disqualification which would take  effect  from  the  date  of  conviction  and therefore  a safeguard  had  to  be  provided  in  sub- section   (4)   of    Section  8   of    the    Act   that  the
disqualification,  despite  the conviction  or   sentence, not  have  effect  until  the  appeal  or   revision  is decided by the Appellate or  the Revisional Court.  He submitted  that  there is,  therefore,  a rationale  for enacting sub-section (4)  of Section 8 of the Act.

Findings of the Court

14. We will first decide the issue raised before us in these writ  petitions   that   Parliament  lacked  the  legislative power to enact sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act as  this   issue   was   not   at   all  considered   by   the Constitution Bench of  this  Court in the  aforesaid  case
of  K.  Prabhakaran  (supra).   In  The Empress  v. Burah and Another  [(1878)  5  I.A.  178]  the   Privy  Council speaking through Selborne  J.  laid down the  following fundamental  principles  for   interpretation  of  a written constitution laying down the powers of the Indian Legislature:
“The Indian Legislature has powers expressly   limited   by   the    Act   of    the Imperial Parliament which created it; and it can, of  course, do nothing beyond the limits which circumscribes these powers. But, when acting within these limits, it is not in any sense  an agent  or  delegate  of the Imperial Parliament, but has, and was intended    to  have,  plenary    powers  of

legislation,  as  large,  and  of   the  same nature, as those of Parliament itself.   The established Courts of Justice, when a question  arises  whether the  prescribed limits have been exceeded, must of necessity  determine  that  question; and the  only way in which they  can properly do so, is by looking to the  terms  of  the instrument by which, affirmatively, the legislative  powers were created,  and by which, negatively, they are restricted.   If what has  been  done  is legislation within the  general   scope  of    the  affirmative words  which  give  the  power, and  if  it violates   no  express  condition   or restriction by which that  power is limited (in which category  would, of  course, be included     any     Act    of     the   Imperial Parliament  at variance  with it), it is not for  any Court of Justice to inquire further, or   to  enlarge  constructively  those conditions and restrictions.”

The correctness of  the aforesaid principles with regard  to interpretation   of   a  written   constitution  has  been  re- affirmed  by the majority  of  Judges  in Kesavananda Bharti

v.    State   of  Kerala   (AIR    1973   SC    1465)   (See   the Constitutional  Law   of India,  H.M. Seervai,  Fourth Edition, Vol.I,  para 2.4 at page 174).   Hence, when a question is raised whether Parliament has exceeded the limits of  its powers, courts  have  to decide  the  question  by looking to
the terms of  the instrument  by which affirmatively,  the

legislative  powers were created, and by which negatively, they are restricted.

15.We  must  first  consider  the  argument of   Mr.  Luthra, learned Additional Solicitor General, that the legislative power to enact sub-section (4)  of Section 8 of the  Act is located  in Article  246(1) read  with Entry 97 of  List I of the   Seventh   Schedule    and   Article    248   of     the Constitution, if  not in Articles  102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution.    Articles 246 and 248 of the Constitution are  placed  in Chapter  I of  Part XI of  the Constitution  of   India.      Part  XI  is  titled   “Relations between the Union and  the  States”  and  Chapter  I of Part XI is titled “Legislative Relations”.   In Chapter I of Part XI, under the heading “Distribution of  Legislative Powers”  Articles  245  to  255  have  been  placed.     A reading of  Articles 245 to 255 would show that  these relate to distribution of  legislative powers between the Union and the Legislatures of the States. Article 246(1) provides that Parliament has exclusive power to make laws  with respect to any of  the matters enumerated in
List I in the  Seventh  Schedule  of  the Constitution and

under Entry 97 of  List I of  the Seventh Schedule  of  the Constitution, Parliament has exclusive power to make law with respect to any other matter not enumerated in List  II  or   List  III.    Article  248  similarly provides  that Parliament has exclusive power to make  any law with respect   to   any   matter   not   enumerated   in   the Concurrent  List  (List  III)  or   State List  (List  II)  of  the Seventh  Schedule   of   the   Constitution.     Therefore, Article 246(1) read  with Entry 97 and Article 248 only provide that  in residuary matters (other than matters enumerated in List II and  List III) Parliament will  have power to make law.  To quote from Commentary on the Constitution of  India  by Durga Das Basu (8th   Edition) Volume 8 at page 8988:

“In short, the principle underlying Article
248, read with Entry 97 of List I, is that a written Constitution, which divides legislative power as between two legislatures    in   a   federation,    cannot intend that neither of  such Legislatures shall go without power to legislate with respect of  any subject  simply  because that subject has not been specifically mentioned nor can be reasonably comprehended  by judicial interpretation to be included  in any  of  the Entries  in the  Legislative  Lists.    To  meet such a situation,  a residuary  power is provided,

d   in   the   Indian   Constitution,   this residuary  power  is vested  in the  Union Legislature.   Once, therefore, it is found that a particular subject-matter has not been assigned to the competence of the State Legislature,  “it leads  to the irresistible inference that (the Union) Parliament would have legislative competence to deal with the subject- matter in question.”

Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution, on the other hand, have conferred specific  powers on Parliament to make law providing disqualifications for  membership of either House of Parliament or Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of  the State other than those specified in sub-clauses (a), (b), (c)  and (d) of  clause (1) of  Articles
102 and 191 of  the  Constitution.   We may note that  no power  is  vested   in  the  State   Legislature  to  make  law laying down disqualifications  of  membership  of  the Legislative  Assembly  or   Legislative  Council of  the State and  power  is  vested   in  Parliament  to  make  law  laying down disqualifications also in respect of  members of  the Legislative Assembly  or  Legislative  Council of  the State. For  these reasons, we are of  the  considered  opinion that the  legislative   power  of   Parliament   to  enact  any  law
relating to disqualification for  membership of either House

of    Parliament   or    Legislative   Assembly   or    Legislative Council of  the State can be located  only in Articles  102(1) (e) and 191(1)(e) of  the  Constitution  and  not  in Articles
246(1) read with Entry 97 of List I of the Seventh Schedule and Article  248 of  the Constitution.  We do not, therefore, accept  the  contention of   Mr. Luthra  that  the  power to enact sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act is vested in Parliament under Articles 246(1) read with Entry 97 of List I of  the Seventh Schedule  and 248 of  the Constitution,  if not   in   Articles    102   (1)(e)   and   191   (1)(e)   of    the Constitution.

16. Articles  102(1)(e) and  191(1)(e) of  the Constitution, which contain  the  only source  of  legislative  power to lay  down  disqualifications  for   membership  of   either House of  Parliament and Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of a State, provide as follows:

“102(1)(e).   A   person  shall   be disqualified for  being chosen as, and for being,   a  member of   either   House  of Parliament-(e)  if he is so disqualified  by or  under any law made by Parliament.”

“191(1)(e).  “A   person  shall   be disqualified for  being chosen as, and for being, a member of  the Legislative Assembly or  Legislative Council of a State—(e) if  he  is so disqualified  by or under any law made by Parliament.

A reading of the aforesaid two provisions in Articles 102(1) (e)  and  191(1)(e)  of   the   Constitution   would  make   it abundantly clear that Parliament is to make one law for  a person to be  disqualified  for   being  chosen as,  and for being,   a  member  of    either   House  of    Parliament   or Legislative Assembly or  Legislative Council of the State. In the language  of  the  Constitution Bench of  this  Court in Election Commission, India  v. Saka Venkata Rao   (supra), Article   191(1)   [which  is  identically   worded  as  Article
102(1)] lays  down “the same set of  disqualifications  for election   as   well   as   for    continuing    as  a  member”. Parliament  thus does not have the power under Articles
102(1)(e)  and  191(1)(e)  of   the   Constitution  to  make different  laws  for   a person to be disqualified  for   being chosen as a member and for  a person to be disqualified for   continuing  as a member of  Parliament  or   the State Legislature.       To    put   it   differently,    if   because  of    a
disqualification  a person cannot be chosen as a member of  Parliament  or  State Legislature,  for  the same disqualification, he cannot continue as a member of Parliament or  the State Legislature.   This is so because the language of  Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of  the Constitution  is  such  that  the  disqualification  for   both a person  to  be  chosen  as  a  member  of   a   House  of Parliament  or   the  State Legislature  or   for   a  person to continue  as   a   member  of    Parliament   or    the  State Legislature has to be the same.

17.Mr. Luthra and Mr. Kuhad, however, contended that the disqualifications  laid down  in sub-sections  (1),(2) and (3)   of  Section 8 of  the Act are the same for  persons who are  to continue as members of  Parliament  or   a State Legislature and sub-section (4)  of Section 8 of the Act    does    not    lay     down   a    different     set   of disqualifications for  sitting members but merely states that  the same disqualifications  will  have  effect  only after  the  appeal  or   revision,  as  the  case  may be, against  the conviction  is decided  by the  Appellate  or the  Revisional Court if such appeal  or  revision  is filed
within  3  months   from  the  date   of   conviction. We cannot accept this contention also because of the provisions  of  Articles  101(3)(a) and  190(3)(a) of  the Constitution which are quoted hereinbelow:

“101(3)(a). Vacation of seats.- (1)  …….
(2)  …….
(3)        If   a  member  of    either    House   of
Parliament-
(a) becomes subject to any of the disqualifications  mentioned  in clause  (1) or clause (2)  of article 102.
his seat shall thereupon become vacant”

“190(3)(a). Vacation of seats.- (1)  …….
(2)  …….
(3)  If a member of a House of the Legislature of a State- (a) becomes subject to any of the disqualifications  mentioned  in clause  (1) or clause (2)  of article 191.
his seat shall thereupon become vacant”

Thus, Article 101(3)(a) provides that if a member of either House of Parliament becomes subject to any of the disqualifications  mentioned   in  clause  (1),  his  seat shall thereupon become vacant and similarly Article  190(3)(a) provides that if a member of a House of the Legislature of a State becomes subject  to any of  the disqualifications mentioned  in clause (1), his seat shall thereupon become vacant.     This  is  the  effect  of   a  disqualification   under

Articles 102(1) and 190(1) incurred by a member of either House of  Parliament or  a House of  the State Legislature. Accordingly,  once a person who was a member of  either House  of   Parliament  or   House  of   the  State Legislature becomes  disqualified   by  or    under   any   law  made  by Parliament  under Articles  102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of  the Constitution, his  seat automatically  falls vacant  by virtue of  Articles 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of  the Constitution and Parliament  cannot  make  a provision as in sub-section  (4) of  Section 8 of  the  Act  to  defer  the  date  on  which the disqualification  of  a sitting member will  have effect and prevent his seat becoming vacant on account of the disqualification  under Article  102(1)(e) or  Article  191(1)(e) of the Constitution.

18.   We cannot also  accept the submission  of  Mr. Kuhad that   until  the   decision   is  taken   by  the   President   or Governor on whether a  member  of  Parliament  or   State Legislature  has  become subject  to  any  of   the disqualifications mentioned  in clause (1) of Article 102 and Article  191 of  the Constitution,  the seat of  the member
alleged  to have been disqualified  will  not become vacant under Articles 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of  the Constitution. Articles   101(3)(a)   and   190(3)(a)   of    the  Constitution provide that if a member of the House becomes subject to any of  the disqualifications  mentioned in clause  (1), “his seat shall  thereupon become vacant”.  Hence, the seat of a member who becomes subject  to any of  the disqualifications mentioned  in clause (1) will fall vacant  on the  date  on which the  member  incurs the disqualification and  cannot  await  the  decision of   the  President or   the Governor, as the case may be, under Articles 103 and 192 respectively  of   the  Constitution.  The  filling of   the seat which falls vacant,  however, may await the decision of the President  or   the  Governor under  Articles  103  and  192 respectively of the Constitution and if the President or  the Governor takes  a view that  the  member  has  not become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1)     of     Articles    102   and   191   respectively of the Constitution, it has to be held that the seat of the member so held  not to be disqualified  did not become  vacant  on the date  on which the member  was alleged  to have been
subject to the disqualification.

19.   The  result  of   our  aforesaid  discussion  is  that   the affirmative words used  in Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) confer power on Parliament  to make one law laying down the  same  disqualifications  for   a  person   who  is  to  be chosen as member of  either House of  Parliament or  as a member of the Legislative Assembly or  Legislative Council of  a State and for  a person  who is a sitting member  of  a House of  Parliament  or  a House of  the State Legislature and  the  words in Articles  101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of  the Constitution put express limitations on such powers of the Parliament to defer the date on which the disqualifications would have effect.  Accordingly,  sub-section (4)  of  Section
8 of  the   Act  which  carves out a saving  in the  case  of sitting members  of  Parliament  or  State Legislature  from the disqualifications under sub-sections (1), (2)  and (3)  of Section 8 of the Act or  which defers the date  on which the disqualification  will  take  effect  in  the  case  of   a sitting member of Parliament or  a State Legislature is beyond the
powers conferred on Parliament by the Constitution.

20.     Looking at the affirmative  terms of  Articles  102(1)(e) and  191(1)(e)  of   the   Constitution,   we  hold  that Parliament has been vested  with the powers to make law laying down the same disqualifications for  person to be chosen as a member of  Parliament or  a State Legislature  and for  a sitting member of  a House of Parliament or  a House of a State Legislature.   We also hold  that   the   provisions   of   Article   101(3)(a)  and
190(3)(a) of the Constitution expressly prohibit Parliament to defer the date from which the disqualification  will   come  into  effect  in  case   of   a sitting member of  Parliament or  a State Legislature. Parliament, therefore, has exceeded its powers conferred  by the Constitution in enacting  sub-section (4)   of   Section  8  of   the  Act  and   accordingly  sub- section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the  Act is ultra vires the Constitution.

21.   We do not also  find merit  in the  submission  of  Mr.
Luthra  and  Mr. Kuhad  that if  a sitting  member  of Parliament  or   the State Legislature  suffers  from  a frivolous conviction  by the trial  court for  an offence

given  under sub-section (1), (2) or  (3)  of  Section  8 of the  Act,  he  will   be  remediless  and  he  will   suffer immense hardship as he would stand  disqualified on account of  such conviction  in  the absence of  sub- section  (4) of  Section 8 of  the Act.    A  three-Judge Bench  of   this  Court  in  Rama  Narang  v.  Ramesh Narang & Ors. [(1995) 2 SCC 513] has held that when an appeal is preferred under Section 374 of the Code of   Criminal  Procedure   [for    short  ‘the   Code’]   the appeal  is against  both the conviction  and sentence and, therefore, the Appellate Court in exercise  of  its power under Section 389(1) of the Code can also stay the order of conviction and the High Court in exercise of  its  inherent  jurisdiction under  Section  482  of  the Code can also  stay the conviction  if  the power was not  to  be  found in Section  389(1)  of  the  Code.   In Ravikant  S. Patil  v. Sarvabhouma  S. Bagali [(2007) 1
SCC    673],  a   three-Judge   Bench   of    this    Court, however, observed:

“It deserves to be clarified that an order granting stay  of   conviction   is  not  the   rule   but  is  an

exception  to  be   resorted   to  in   rare   cases depending upon the facts of  a case.  Where the execution   of    the   sentence   is   stayed,   the conviction  continues  to operate.  But where the conviction itself is stayed, the effect  is that  the conviction  will not be operative from the date of stay. An order of stay, of course, does not render the conviction  non-existent,  but  only non- operative.  Be   that   as  it  may.  Insofar  as  the present case is  concerned, an application  was filed  specifically  seeking  stay  of   the  order of conviction  specifying  the  consequences if conviction was not stayed, that is, the appellant would   incur    disqualification    to   contest   the election. The High Court after considering the special  reason,  granted  the  order staying  the conviction.  As the  conviction  itself  is stayed  in contrast to a stay of execution of the sentence, it is not  possible  to accept the contention of  the respondent that the disqualification arising out of conviction  continues to operate even after  stay of conviction.

In  the  aforesaid  case,  a  contention was raised  by  the respondents that the appellant was disqualified from contesting the election to the Legislative Assembly under sub-section  (3) of  Section 8 of  the  Act  as  he  had  been convicted  for   an offence punishable  under Sections 366 and 376 of  the Indian Penal Code and it was held by the three-Judge   Bench  that   as  the   High  Court  for   special reasons had passed an order staying the conviction, the disqualification   arising   out  of   the  conviction   ceased  to

operate after the stay of conviction.    Therefore, the disqualification  under sub-section  (1), (2)  or  (3) of  Section
8 of the  Act will not operate from the date of order of stay of  conviction  passed by the Appellate  Court under Section
389 of  the Code or  the  High Court under  Section 482 of the Code.

22.    As we have  held  that Parliament  had no power to enact   sub-section  (4)    of    Section  8  of    the    Act   and accordingly sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the  Act is ultra vires  the Constitution, it is not necessary for  us to go into the  other issue  raised  in  these writ petitions  that  sub- section (4) of  Section 8 of  the  Act is violative  of  Article  14 of  the Constitution.    It  would have been necessary for  us to go into this question  only if sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of   the   Act  was   held  to  be  within  the   powers  of   the Parliament.   In other words, as we can declare sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act as  ultra  vires the Constitution without  going  into  the question as to whether sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act is violative  of  Article  14 of  the Constitution, we do not think  it is necessary to decide the Question as to whether sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act is violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.

23.   The  only  question   that   remains  to  be  decided  is whether  our declaration  in this judgment that sub-section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the Act is  ultra  vires  the Constitution should affect disqualifications already incurred under sub- sections (1), (2)  and (3) of  Section 8 of  the  Act by sitting members of  Parliament and State Legislatures who have filed appeals or  revisions against their conviction within a period of three months and their appeals and revisions are still  pending  before  the  concerned   court.     Under  sub- sections (1), (2)  and (3) of Section 8 of the Act, the disqualification takes effect from the date of conviction for any of  the  offences mentioned  in  the  sub-sections and remains  in force  for   the periods  mentioned  in the  sub- sections.   Thus, there  may be several sitting members of Parliament   and  State  Legislatures   who  have   already incurred disqualification by virtue of  a conviction covered under sub-section (1), or  sub-section (2) or  sub-section (3) of Section 8 of the Act.   In Golak Nath and Others vs.  State

of Punjab and Another (AIR 1967 SC 1643), Subba Rao, C.J. speaking  on  behalf  of   himself,  Shah,  Sikri, Shelat  and Vaidialingam, JJ. has held that Articles 32, 141, 142 of  the Constitution are couched in such a wide and elastic  terms as to enable  this  Court to  formulate  legal  doctrines  to meet the ends of  justice  and has  further held  that this Court has the power not only to declare the law but also to restrict  the operation of  the law as declared  to future and save the transactions, whether statutory or  otherwise, that were  effected  on the  basis  of   the earlier  law.    Sitting members of  Parliament  and State Legislature  who have already  been convicted  for  any of  the offences mentioned in sub-section  (1), (2)  and (3) of  Section 8 of  the  Act and who have filed appeals or  revisions which are pending and are accordingly  saved from the disqualifications  by virtue of sub-section (4)  of Section 8 of the Act should not, in our considered  opinion,  be  affected  by the  declaration now made  by  us  in  this  judgment.          This  is  because  the knowledge  that sitting  members  of  Parliament  or   State Legislatures  will no longer  be protected by sub-section (4)
of  Section 8 of  the  Act will  be acquired  by all concerned
only  on  the  date   this  judgment  is  pronounced   by  this Court.   As  has been observed by this  Court  in  Harla   v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1951 SC 467):
“……..it  would be against  the principles of  natural  justice  to permit  the subjects of  a State to be punished  or  penalized by laws of which they had no knowledge and of  which they  could  not even with exercise of  due diligence have acquired any knowledge.

However, if  any sitting member of  Parliament or  a State Legislature  is convicted  of  any of  the offences mentioned in sub-sections (1), (2)  and (3) of  Section 8 of  the  Act and by virtue  of  such conviction  and/or sentence  suffers the disqualifications mentioned  in sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of  Section 8 of  the Act  after  the pronouncement of  this judgment, his membership of Parliament or  the State Legislature, as the case may be, will not be saved by sub- section (4)  of  Section 8 of  the  Act which  we have by this judgment declared as ultra vires the Constitution notwithstanding that he files the appeal or  revision against the conviction and /or  sentence.

24.   With the  aforesaid  declaration,  the writ petitions  are allowed.   No costs.
Page 43

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 694 OF 2004

Basant Kumar Chaudhary                                  … Petitioner

Versus
Union of India & Ors.                                     … Respondents

ORDER

The petitioner is a practicing Advocate in the Patna High Court and  has  filed this writ petition  as  a Public Interest Litigation  challenging  sub-section  (4) of  Section 8 of  the Representation  of   the People  Act,  1951  (for   short  ‘the Act’),  as ultra vires the Constitution.

2.     This  writ  petition   was   heard   along   with  W.P.(C) No.490 of  2005  and W.P.(C) No.231 of  2005 in which sub- section (4) of Section 8 of the of the Act is also challenged
as ultra vires the Constitution.

3.     We have  today  delivered  the judgment  in  W.P.(C) No.490 of  2005  and  W.P.(C) No.231 of  2005.  Hence, this writ  petition  is  disposed  of   in  terms   of   the  aforesaid judgment in W.P.(C) No.490 of 2005 and W.P.(C) No.231 of
2005.  No costs.

..……………..……………………….J. (A. K. Patnaik)

……………..………………………..J. (Sudhansu Jyoti Mukhopadhaya)

New Delhi, July 10, 2013.

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 3040-3041 OF 2004

The Chief Election Commissioner Etc.              … Petitioners

Versus

Jan Chaukidar (Peoples Watch) & Ors.          … Respondents

ORDER

These are appeals by way of Special Leave under Article

136 of  the Constitution against  the common order dated

30.04.2004 of  the Patna High Court in C.W.J.C.  No.4880 of

2004 and C.W.J.C. No.4988 of 2004.

2.     The  facts  very  briefly  are  that   Article  326  of   the Constitution provides  that the elections  to the  House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of  every State shall  be on the basis of  adult  suffrage and every person who is a citizen of India and who is not less than eighteen years of  age  on such date  as may be fixed in that  behalf by or  under  any law made  by the appropriate  Legislature and is not otherwise disqualified  under the Constitution or

any  law  made   by  the   appropriate   Legislature   on  the grounds of  non-residence, unsoundness of  mind, crime or corrupt or  illegal practice, shall be entitled to be registered as  a  voter for   any  such  election.     In  accordance  with Article 326 of the Constitution, Parliament has enacted the Representation   of   the People   Act,   1950  (for   short  ‘the
1950  Act’) for  registration  of  voters at such elections  to the House of the People and to the Legislative Assembly of every State and has also  enacted the Representation  of the People  Act,  1951 (for   short ‘the  1951 Act’)   for   the conduct of  elections  to the  Houses of  Parliament  and to the Houses of Legislature of each State.

3.     The  word  “elector”  is  defined  in  the   1951   Act  in relation to the constituency to mean a person whose name is entered in electoral rolls of the constituency for  the time being in force and who is not subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned  in Section 16 of  the 1950 Act. Section 16(1)(c) of  the  1950  Act provides  that a person shall be disqualified for  registration in an electoral roll  if he
is for   the time being  disqualified  from voting under  the provisions  of   any  law  relating  to  corrupt practices  and other offences in connection with elections.

4.     Section 4 of the 1951 Act lays down the qualifications for  membership of the House of the People and one of the qualifications laid down is that he must be an “elector” for any Parliamentary constituency. Similarly, Section 5 of the
1951  Act lays down the qualifications for  membership of a Legislative   Assembly    of    a   State   and   one   of    the qualifications laid down is that he must be an “elector” for any Assembly  constituency in that  State.    Section  62 of the  1951  Act is  titled  “Right to vote”  and  it provides  in sub-section (5)  that no person shall  vote at any election  if he  is confined  in a prison,  whether under a sentence of imprisonment or  transportation or  otherwise, or  is in the lawful custody  of  the police.    The proviso  to sub-section (5)  of Section 62 of the 1951 Act, however, states that the sub-section  will   not  apply   to  a  person  subjected   to preventive  detention under any law for  the time being  in
force.

5.     Writ petitions C.W.J.C. No.4880 of  2004 and C.W.J.C. No.4988  of   2004   were  filed  in  the   Patna   High  Court contending   that   a  person,   who  is  confined   in  prison, whether under  a  sentence  of   imprisonment  or transportation or  otherwise,  or  is in the  lawful custody  of the police  is not entitled  to vote  by virtue  of  sub-section (5)  of Section 62 of the  1951  Act and  accordingly is not an “elector”   and  is,   therefore,   not  qualified   to  contest elections   to  the   House  of    People   or    the  Legislative Assembly  of  a State because of  the provisions  in Sections
4 and 5 of the 1951 Act.   By the impugned common order, the   High  Court  accepted  this   contention   in  the   writ petitions and held:

“A right  to vote is a statutory right,  the Law   gives  it,  the  Law   takes   it  away. Persons  convicted   of   crime   are  kept away from elections  to the Legislature, whether  to  State  Legislature   or Parliament,      and     all    other     public elections.  The Court has no hesitation  in interpreting   the   Constitution  and   the Laws framed  under  it,  read  together, that persons  in the lawful custody of the Police also  will  not  be  voters,  in which case, they will  neither be electors.   The Law  temporarily  takes away the power of   such  persons  to  go anywhere  near the  election   scene.      To    vote   is   a statutory  right.   It   is  privilege   to  vote,

which privilege may be taken away.  In that case, the elector would not be qualified,  even  if  his  name   is  on  the electoral  rolls.   The name  is not  struck off, but the qualification to be an elector and the privilege  to  vote  when  in the lawful  custody   of   the  police  is  taken away.”

6.     Aggrieved,  by  the  findings  of   the  High Court,  the appellants  have   filed  these  appeals.     We  have  heard learned  counsel  for   the  parties  and  we do not  find any infirmity in the findings of the High Court in the impugned common order that a person who has no right  to vote by virtue  of  the provisions  of  sub-section (5)  of  Section  62 of the   1951   Act  is  not  an  elector   and   is  therefore   not qualified to contest the election to the House of the People or  the Legislative Assembly of a State.

7.     These  civil   appeals  are accordingly  dismissed.    No costs.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.