Chief Election Commissioner M S Gill on Monday dismissed All India Anna DMK leader J Jayalalitha's charge that the EC had ''discriminated'' against her in rejecting her nomination papers
for the May 10 assembly polls, while accepting those of Kerala legislator Balakrishna Pillai.
Gill said the Representation of the People Act, 1951 provided protection to sitting members of Parliament and legislators.
Speaking to reporters in Delhi, Gill said the RPA provided that if a sitting legislator or member of Parliament was convicted, the disqualification to contest elections would not take effect for three months. And if within the three-month period, the person appealed in a higher court against the conviction, the disqualification would not come into effect till the disposal of the appeal.
It was on the basis of this clause, that the returning officer accepted Pillai's nomination, he said and added that Jayalalitha was disqualified as she was neither a member of Parliament nor a legislator.
Observing that the RPA had been upheld by the Madras high court, Gill said: ''The country should understand that it is the law that has been applied in Kerala.''
The CEC also noted that under the RPA, it was the returning officer who was responsible for rejecting or accepting nomination papers.
''We do not sit in judgement over anyone's nomination papers, it is the returning officer who has to apply the law and the EC's directives while taking a decision,'' he added.
However, the CEC said the commission had received a notice from the Kerala high court, where Section 8 of the RPA had been challenged.
''The commission after deliberations will submit its reply to the high court. We do not hesitate to come up front with our views, whenever necessary,'' he added.
Jayalalitha was convicted on corruption charges in two TANSI land deal cases in October last year and sentenced to two and three years of imprisonment. As per the law anyone sentenced for not less than two years stood disqualified from contesting elections for six years from the date of conviction.
As per the Election Commission's 'clarificatory directive' to returning officers on August 28, 1997, it was not enough for a convicted person to secure a stay only on the sentence. It was mandatory to secure a stay on the conviction too.
While the Madras high court has stayed the sentence against the AIADMK chief, it has rejected her plea to suspend the conviction.
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