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TADA conviction may not
disqualify Mukhtar Ansari
Sharat Pradhan in Lucknow | February 10, 2003 10:34 IST
Despite being convicted by a TADA court last Wednesday, dreaded criminal-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari might not be disqualified from the Uttar Pradesh state assembly nor barred him from contesting the next election.
Calling Ansari a 'dangerous' and 'professional' criminal, the special court sentenced him to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.
However, certain contradictory provisions in the Representation of People's Act (RPA) are likely to help him safeguard his place in the state legislature of India's most populous state.
The much-hyped amendments to the RPA bar a convicted person from contesting any election. However, sitting legislators get some relief.
Section 8 (1)-(g) of the Act clearly states - A convicted person would be disqualified from the house for a period of six years.
But section 8 (4) accords immunity from this very law to all sitting members.
"Notwithstanding the provisions under sub-sections 1, 2, 3 of this Act, a disqualification under either sub-section shall not, in the case of a person, who, on the date of the conviction, is a member of Parliament or 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 off by the court."
This immunity clause overrides even the harsher provisions under section 8 (1) (g), which clearly states, "A person convicted of an offence punishable under section 3 or section 4 of TADA 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 from the date of such conviction for a further period of six years since his release."
According to a senior official of the election commission in Lucknow, "Since Mukhtar Ansari is a MLA and his lawyers are expected to move the apex court against the verdict of the TADA court, he may be able to not only retain his seat, but also seek fresh election."
The official cited the example of Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa who was barred from contesting elections after being conviction in a corruption case.
Since she was not a legislator at the time of the conviction, she had to wait until she got relief from the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, even after being convicted by a Kerala court, Bhaskaran Pillai could not be barred from contesting the assembly poll simply because he was a member of the Kerala state assembly when the conviction order was slapped on him.
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