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"Parliament should step in": Senior advocate Vikas Singh on jailed candidates being elected as MPs

New Delhi: Urging the Parliament to intervene in the process of jailed candidates becoming Members of Parliament, Senior advocate Vikas Singh said that the number of legislators with criminal charges is on the rise adding that it is an irony that "people in jails cannot vote, but can contest and win elections".
"The makers of the Constitution would have never thought that such people would be elected to the Parliament. A constitutional amendment is needed to specify the charges, holding which, the candidates will be disqualified from contesting elections. The irony is, that people in jails cannot vote, but can contest and win elections. A Parliamentary seat cannot lie vacant for more than 60 days, irrespective of whether they have taken an oath. The Parliament should step in and not let such people get elected," Senior advocate Vikas Singh told ANI.
He further said that such candidates should not be allowed to recontest as their constituency remains unrepresented till the time they remain in custody.
"And in cases where they have to vacate their seats, they should not be allowed to recontest till the time they are out of custody because of the number of days they spend in jail, the constituency will remain unrepresented. It is the need of the hour to bring a law addressing this issue. There is a provision somewhere which allows them to file their nominations by authorising someone, this is how they have contested elections," Singh said.
Quoting Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud, Supreme Court Advocate Prashant Padmanabhan said, "The beauty of the Constitution is that it protects those who don't even believe in it."
Padmanabhan said that the remedy to avoid such cases in Parliament is an expeditious trial which can result in either acquittal or conviction of those candidates who are jailed.
As per Section 8 (3) of RP Act, 1951, if a person is convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment of 2 years or more, this will be disqualification to contest elections.
According to the Election Commission's announcement on Tuesday, Amritpal Singh, a Sikh preacher, has secured victory in the Khadoor Sahib constituency, while Sheikh Abdul Rashid, also known as "Engineer Rashid," has won the Baramulla seat.
Amritpal Singh was arrested by Punjab police in April last year, weeks after he evaded police and the stringent National Security Act was invoked against him. He won the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha seat with a massive margin of 1,97,120 votes, defeating his nearest rival, Kulbir Singh Zira of Congress.
Engineer Rashid ran as an independent candidate from the Baramulla seat and defeated Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC) vice-president Omar Abdullah. He secured victory with a margin of 2,04,142 votes and received 4,72,481 votes.
Rashid has been lodged in the Tihar jail since August 9, 2019, on charges of alleged terror financing, while Singh has been booked under the National Security Act and sent to the Dibrugarh jail in Assam.
Jailed Khalistani separatist and Waris Punjab De Chief Amritpal Singh and Engineer Abdul Rashid, who have won the Lok Sabha elections, can come to Parliament to participate in the oath-taking ceremony and take part in important votes with the court's permission, a Constitution expert PDT Achary said.
"They (jailed MPs) can come to Parliament. The first thing is that they will now have to come and take the oath. With the permission of the court and concerned authorities, they can come out and take the oath. The police will bring them to Parliament, after which they will be handed over to the Parliament security. After they take the oath, they will be sent back to jail with the police," he said.

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