The Indian Express | 2 months ago | 25-03-2023 | 12:45 pm
A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of a Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 which provides for automatic disqualification of a legislator from the Parliament or State assembly upon conviction in a criminal case, Bar and Bench reported.The plea, filed by PhD scholar and social activist Aabha Muralidharan, assumes significance as it comes at a time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from Lok Sabha after his conviction in a defamation case.Murulidharan said, “Section 8(3) is ultra vires of the Constitution since it curtails free speech of an elected Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) and restrains law makers from freely discharging their duties cast upon them by the voters of their respective constituency. ”According to the petition, Section 8(3) is in contradiction to sub-section (1) of the Section 8, Section 8A, 9, 9A, 10 and 10A and 11 of the 1951 Act. In the petition, Murulidharan said the factors such as nature, gravity, role, moral turpitude and the role of the accused, needed to be examined while considering disqualification under Chapter III of the 1951 Act. He pointed out that the intent of the legislature was to disqualify the elected members who on committing of a heinous offences are convicted by the courts and hence are liable to be disqualified.He also contended that the Lily Thomas judgment of the apex court which struck down Section 8(4), is being misused, reported Bar and Bench.