Chennai, Citing legal provisions that bars a convict from exercising the right to vote, former AIADMK Member of Parliament K.C. Palaniswamy on Monday urged the Election Commission to disqualify V.K. Sasikala as party General Secretary.
Former Chief Election Commissioner T.S. Krishnamurthy told IANS that law has to prevent convicts from holding party posts to ensure probity in public life.
“Section 62(5) of The Representation of People Act, 1951 clearly bars a convict from voting in any election in India. The right to vote is the basic democratic right in India,” Palaniswamy, former MP and AIADMK member, told IANS here on Monday.
Section 62(5) of the Representation of People Act reads as follows: “No person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police:
Provided that nothing in this sub-section shall apply to a person subjected to preventive detention under any law for the time being in force.”
Palaniswamy said the law is clear that a convict does not have a voting right.
“As a logical corollary a person whose basic democratic right is cancelled should not be allowed to participate in the democratic process as a leader of a political party,” Palaniswamy argued.
He said AIADMK’s interim General Secretary Sasikala is convicted for four years in a corruption case.
“In AIAMDK it is the General Secretary who authorises party candidates and allots the party symbol to them to fight elections. Further it is the General Secretary who issues the directions to the party Whip as to how the party legislators have to vote in the assembly or in the Parliament,” Palaniswamy said.
“How can a person who is legally barred from participating in the basic democratic process – voting in an election – indirectly take charge of a political party,” Palaniswamy argued.
Asked for his comments, former Chief Election Commissioner Krishnamurthy told IANS: “Section 11A and Section 65 of the Representation of People Act prevent a convicted person in respect of certain offences from voting in election to Parliament/State Assembly but such persons are not disqualified from holding positions in a political party.”
“Time has indeed come for law to prevent such persons holding party posts to ensure probity in public life,” Krishnamurthy added.
“Hence keeping the Representative of Peoples Act in mind the Election Commission should act swiftly to declare that such convicts and disqualified persons cannot hold any post in the political parties which may include the primary membership. This will set a precedence in the electoral reforms to a greater extent,” Palaniswamy said.
Palaniswamy said he has sent an additional representation to the Election Commission.
This follows his petition sent in January 2017 in which he had urged the poll panel to appoint an independent and fearless officer to conduct the election for the post of General Secretary of AIADMK, restrain the present office bearers from being removed or replaced, so as to ensure a level playing field, till the holding of elections, and sought that direction be given to the present office bearers not to alienate or fritter away the assets of the party other than those necessary for the regular expenses of the party and not to decide on any policy decisions till the elections are over, including expulsion of any member of the party.
He also sought that the appointment of Sasikala as “interim general secretary”, on December 29 last year, not be recognised.