The Supreme Court on Wednesday chided the Election Commission for retracting from its earlier position supporting a plea for a lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers from contesting elections.
“It is within the domain of the Election Commission, if you don’t want to be independent, (and remain) constrained by the legislature, (then) say so,” said a bench of Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Navin Sinha as counsel for EC told the court it was supporting the cause of the petitioner to decriminalise politics.
“When a citizen comes to the EC seeking lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers, is silence an option? Either you can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Can you afford to be silent?” the bench said as it read a paragraph from the response of the EC which supported the plea for a lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers on contesting elections.
However, the counsel for the EC told the bench that the said paragraph should not be read in isolation and should be read as a part of the entire response of the Commission.
The court said that the EC wanted the court to read in between the lines, and there was no reason why they should do so.
The court said this in the course of the hearing of a PIL by BJP leader Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay seeking lifetime ban on convicted lawmakers and setting up of special courts for trying lawmakers accused of criminal offences.