The Supreme Court on Monday refused to allow Maharashtra Jail Minister Nawab Malik and former home minister Anil Deshmukh to vote in the Maharashtra Legislative Council (MLC). Representation of the People Act which restricts persons in prison from voting in any parliamentary or state elections.
The bench of Justices CT Ravikumar and Sudhanshu Dhulia, in a backdrop, has set a clear bar under Section 62 (5), dismissing their plea for a police escort from the jail to the state assembly to vote before voting ends at 4 pm on Monday. The Supreme Court upheld the RP Act in the 1997 case of Union of India against Anukul Chandra Pradhan, saying no interim relief could be granted.
The court order comes just 15 minutes before the voting closes. “Even if we were to order you to be released, we would have to take you by helicopter,” the bench criticized. When the matter was presented before the Supreme Court on Monday morning, the bench agreed to take it up at 2 pm. On June 17, the Bombay High Court refused permission to vote for both Deshmukh and Nawab. He had moved the Supreme Court against the order.
“It’s tough on you, but what’s the point, the law is tough,” the bench observed. However, the bench did not dismiss petitions, hoping that the issue could arise in the following cases, and agreed to give notice to the twin petitions seeking comment from the central and Maharashtra government within four weeks.
The bench said, “Although the applicant does not question the validity of Section 62 (5) of the RP Act, we cannot go to that point. But this provision is not a little democratic. A person in police custody can be elected, but they cannot vote.
Senior advocate Meenakshi Arora, appearing on behalf of the two legislators, said: “I represent the elected representative of my constituency and the people who sent me to the assembly, their choice, their governance and decision-making. This provision would not only curtail my rights but also limit voter rights.
Aurora pointed out that according to Article 171 (3) (d) of the Constitution, the constitutional duty of electing one-third of the members of the legislature is vested in the legislature. “I am asking for the right under Article 171 for the purpose of elections to the Council of Ministers. I must cast my vote as a legislator, which is what I must exercise under Article 171, ”he said, requesting a last-minute hesitation over a lack of time.
The bench told Aurora to show at least some law that distinguishes between the right of the elector and the elected representative to make the difference that the voting rights of the elected representative are on a different basis.
Arora cited a 2007 ruling, where the Supreme Court permitted the Vice-President’s Office to summon Mohammed Shahabuddin, the then-incarcerated member of Parliament, under a police escort. In 2003, a bipartisan ruling in the People’s Union for Civil Liberties v. Union of India held that the right to vote was a constitutional right.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing on behalf of the Center, told the court that in the case of NP Ponnuswamy (1952), the Constitutional Court can also curtail voting rights, statutory rights and constitutional right through law. . This section does not apply to those detained in prison under preventive detention. Against the petitioners, Mehta said they are facing charges under the Money Laundering Act (PMLA).
Referring to the SC relief granted to Shahabuddin, Mehta said that the interpretation election under Section 2 (d) of the RP Act does not apply to the election of President and Vice President.
The bench asked Aurora, “When are you arrested? It will be crucial to see if you are arrested for stealing your voting rights. Malik was arrested in March 2022, but in Deshmukh’s case, his arrest took place in November 2021.
Aurora said, “These are purely political matters.” Arguing on behalf of two Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) lawmakers, he said: “We have 54 MLAs in the House. Each legislator has the right to elect two members to the council. Its whole purpose is to keep us in custody.
The bench refused to accept the submission, stating, “You are arguing for this. You were taken into custody before that. The bench also questioned whether the two applicants had sought bail. Aurora said an alternative prayer for bail has been taken but he has been asked to give permission to vote under police escort. Earlier this month, two MLAs had gone to the Bombay High Court to vote in the Rajya Sabha elections and were rejected.
The bench said, “If you vote or don’t, the seat will be filled. There is a statutory provision that no person in prison should be allowed to vote. For educational purposes, we may consider whether this provision should be interpreted differently for elected representatives. But no interim solution is offered.
In its order passed on Friday, the Bombay High Court said, “The purity of the electoral process and the potential of its participants are of equal importance in strengthening the principles of democracy. Arresting the criminalization of politics is one of the prohibitions under the RP Act.
There are a total of eleven candidates for the 10 seats in the MLC election, five from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and six from the state’s ruling coalition, Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA).