Legislator’s vote before conviction is valid: Supreme Court
On Friday, the Supreme Court held that the vote cast by a legislator on a day when a court convicts him in a criminal case will not be treated as invalid, in a ruling that has far-reaching consequences.
A bench of three judges headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde said the disqualification will continue from the moment the court order condemning and condemning the legislator is passed and not all day.
The question came before the court in an election petition filed by rival members of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Indian National Congress (INC) who stood in the Rajya Sabha elections of Jharkhand in March 2018.
On March 23, 2018, the voting to select the candidates for Rajya Sabha began at 9.15am. One of the members of the 80-member Jharkhand assembly, Amit Kumar Mahto, from the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM) cast his vote in favor of the congressional candidate Dhiraj Prasad Sahu, who was declared elected. The candidate who lost the election was Pradeep Kumar Sonthalia of the BJP. Later that day, around 2.30pm, Mahto was convicted by a Ranchi session court and sentenced to prison. His conviction disqualified him from continuing as a member of the Legislative Assembly under article 8 (3) of the People’s Representation Law. The losing candidate Sonthalia approached the Jharkhand high court to annul Sahu’s election on the grounds that Mahto’s vote should be considered invalid. The court dismissed the petition on January 17 this year against which it approached the supreme court.
“The conviction is the cause and the disqualification is the consequence. A consequence can never precede the cause ”, concluded the court, also composed of judges AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, and upheld the vote cast by Mahto as valid.