Dangerous precedent: On Sikkim CM’s disqualification

Share This Article with Your Friends

 

Dangerous precedent: On Sikkim CM’s disqualification

MORE-IN
Assembly Elections
The EC’s order on Sikkim CM’s disqualification goes against the anti-graft current in law
The Election Commission (EC)’s order reducing(कमी) the period of Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s disqualification(अयोग्यता) from electoral(चुनावी ) contest(मुकाबला ) is morally(नैतिक रूप से) wrong and a dangerous precedent that may end up reversing the trend towards decriminalising(निर्णायक ) politics. Under Section 11 of the Representation(वर्णन) of the People Act, 1951, the EC indeed has the power to remove or reduce the disqualification attached(जुड़ा) to a conviction(विश्वास/(दोषसिद्धि ). However, this has been used rarely, and seldom(कभी कभी) in a case involving a conviction for corruption(भ्रष्टाचार ). Mr. Tamang was convicted( दोषी) under the Prevention(रोकथाम ) of Corruption Act for misappropriating ₹9.50 lakh in the purchase of milch cows for distribution(वितरण/विभाजन) in 1996-97. His one-year prison(जेल की सजा) term was upheld(सही ठहराया/कायम रखना ) by the High Court and the Supreme Court. He went to jail and was released on August 10, 2018. He was controversially(विवादास्पद ढंग से) — and in brazen(निर्लज) disregard(अवहेलना) of the Supreme Court’s 2001 ruling in the case of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa — appointed Chief Minister by the Sikkim Governor earlier this year. Mr. Tamang did not contest, but was elected legislature(विधायक ) party(दल) leader by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which won the election. His appointment as Chief Minister was challenged in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, he approached(संपर्क किया/प्रस्ताव करना) the EC for removing his disqualification. His main argument(तर्क) was that the law prevailing(प्रचलित ) at the time of his offence(अपराध ) entailed(करार दिया/अपरिहार्य) disqualification only if the sentence was for a term of two years or more; and that the amendment in 2003, under which any conviction under the anti-corruption law would attract the six-year disqualification norm, should not be applied to him.

Disqualification from contest is a civil disability(विकलांगता) created by electoral law to keep those convicted(दोषी) by criminal(अपराधी ) courts from “entering elected offices”(निर्वाचित कार्यालयों). It is not a second punishment in a criminal sense. Mr. Tamang cannot argue that disqualification for a one-year term amounts(मात्रा/राशी) to being given a punishment not prevalent(प्रचलित ) at the time of the offence(अपराध). The EC decision also goes against the grain(बीज/अनाज) of a series of legislative and judicial( न्यायिक) measures(उपाय) to strengthen(मजबूत बनाना ) the legal framework against corruption in recent years. The “apex court”(सर्वोच्च न्यायालय) has described( वर्णन किया) corruption as a serious malady(खराबी/रोग ) and one impinging(बाधा/टकराना) on the economy. In 2013, the protection given to sitting legislators from immediate disqualification was removed. Further, common sense would suggest that disqualification should be more strictly applied to those convicted for corruption. Legislators handle public funds, and there is good reason to keep out those guilty(दोषी) of misusing them. Mr. Tamang, even by virtue(गुण/भलाई) of the order reducing(कम करना) his disqualification(अयोग्यता ) to one-year-and-a-month, was not eligible(योग्य) to be sworn in, as his disqualification continued till September 10. Yet, he is now eligible to contest a byelection(उपचुनाव ) and retain(बनाए रखें) his post. The EC is already battling a perception(अनुभूति) that its actions are partisan. Its order in favour of Mr. Tamang, coming just a day after the BJP struck an alliance(गठबंधन ) with the SKM for bypolls to be held on October 21, is bound to further strain(दबाव ) its credibility(विश्वसनीयता ).

Important Vocabulary

1. Approached(संपर्क किया/प्रस्ताव करना)
Synonyms: come, contact, match, meet, near
Antonyms:avoid, depart, go, leave, miss

2. Brazen(निर्लज)
Synonyms: audacious, blatant, bold, impudent, shameless
Antonyms: humble, meek, modest, quiet, retiring

3. Conviction(विश्वास/(दोषसिद्धि )
Synonyms: confidence, faith, feeling, principle, sentiment
Antonyms: distrust, doubt, disbelief, unbelief, overturning

4. Disregard(अवहेलना)
Synonyms: apathy, contempt, disdain, disrespect, inattention
Antonyms: admiration, approval, care, concern, esteem

5. Entailed(करार दिया/अपरिहार्य)
Synonyms: bring about, call for, encompass, involve, lead to
Antonyms: exclude, untangle, untwist

6. Guilty(दोषी)
Synonyms: convicted, culpable, liable, remorseful, responsible
Antonyms: good, immune, irresponsible, right, guiltless

7. Impinging(बाधा/टकराना
Synonyms: encroach, infringe, intrude, affect, disturb
Antonyms: leave alone, avoid, dodge

8. Morally(नैतिक रूप से
Synonyms: properly, scrupulously, appropriately, conscientiously, decently
Antonyms: dishonorably, worthlessly, wrongly

9. malady(खराबी/रोग)
Synonyms: Cancer, ache, affliction, ailment, blight
Antonyms: comfort, good health, health, relief, strength

10. perception(अनुभूति)
Synonyms: approach, attention, attitude, awareness, concept
Antonyms: concrete, ignorance, stupidity, thing, unconsciousness

11. strengthen(मजबूत बनाना
Synonyms: bolster, build up, enhance, enlarge, establish
Antonyms: abridge, condense, curtail, decrease, destroy

12. virtue(गुण/भलाई
Synonyms: advantage, character, ethic, excellence, faith
Antonyms: disadvantage, dishonesty, evil, imperfection, meanness

Credit To The Hindu News Paper

The EC’s order on Sikkim CM’s disqualification goes against the anti-graft current in law
The Election Commission (EC)’s order reducing the period of Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s disqualification from electoral contest is morally wrong and a dangerous precedent that may end up reversing the trend towards decriminalising politics. Under Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, the EC indeed has the power to remove or reduce the disqualification attached to a conviction. However, this has been used rarely, and seldom in a case involving a conviction for corruption. Mr. Tamang was convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act for misappropriating ₹9.50 lakh in the purchase of milch cows for distribution in 1996-97. His one-year prison term was upheld by the High Court and the Supreme Court. He went to jail and was released on August 10, 2018. He was controversially — and in brazen disregard of the Supreme Court’s 2001 ruling in the case of late Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa — appointed Chief Minister by the Sikkim Governor earlier this year. Mr. Tamang did not contest, but was elected legislature party leader by the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM), which won the election. His appointment as Chief Minister was challenged in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, he approached the EC for removing his disqualification. His main argument was that the law prevailing at the time of his offence entailed disqualification only if the sentence was for a term of two years or more; and that the amendment in 2003, under which any conviction under the anti-corruption law would attract the six-year disqualification norm, should not be applied to him.

Disqualification from contest is a civil disability created by electoral law to keep those convicted by criminal courts from entering elected offices. It is not a second punishment in a criminal sense. Mr. Tamang cannot argue that disqualification for a one-year term amounts to being given a punishment not prevalent at the time of the offence. The EC decision also goes against the grain of a series of legislative and judicial measures to strengthen the legal framework against corruption in recent years. The apex court has described corruption as a serious malady and one impinging on the economy. In 2013, the protection given to sitting legislators from immediate disqualification was removed. Further, common sense would suggest that disqualification should be more strictly applied to those convicted for corruption. Legislators handle public funds, and there is good reason to keep out those guilty of misusing them. Mr. Tamang, even by virtue of the order reducing his disqualification to one-year-and-a-month, was not eligible to be sworn in, as his disqualification continued till September 10. Yet, he is now eligible to contest a byelection and retain his post. The EC is already battling a perception that its actions are partisan. Its order in favour of Mr. Tamang, coming just a day after the BJP struck an alliance with the SKM for bypolls to be held on October 21, is bound to further strain its credibility.


Facebook    Twitter          Youtube


PDF DOWNLOAD

Print Friendly, PDF & Email