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Prez nod to bill that allows those in jail to contest polls

September 24, 2013 20:44 IST

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to a bill which maintains the right of those in jail to contest polls, thus overruling a Supreme Court order.

The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2013 negates the July 10 order of the apex court which held that those in jail cannot vote according to the RP Act and hence cannot qualify for contesting elections to Parliament or state legislatures.

The Amendment Act seeks to add a proviso to sub-section (5) of section 62 of the RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as his or her right is only temporarily suspended.

"The Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2013 has received the assent of the President of India," a law ministry statement said on Tuesday.

One of the amendments states that as the name of the jailed person continues to be on the electoral rolls, he or she also continues to be an elector and can file nomination for an election.

The amendment shall come into effect from July 10, the day the apex court gave the judgement. After examining the Supreme Court order, government had filed a review petition, but instead of waiting for the outcome, it felt the need to address the situation.

The apex court had earlier this month agreed to review the judgement.

In its verdict the apex court had ruled that only an "elector" can contest the polls and he/she ceases the right to cast vote due to confinement in prison or being in custody of the police.

The court had, however, made it clear that disqualification would not be applicable to persons subjected to preventive detention under any law. The President also gave his assent to the Parliament (Prevention of Disqualification) Amendment Bill, 2013 that would keep chairpersons of National Commissions for the SC and ST out of the purview of the office of profit.

The Act would also ensure that a member of Parliament can hold that post without facing any disqualification threat, would come into force effective from February 19, 2004.

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