Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act to be interpreted purposively

Bombay High Court: In a recent case,  an application for stay on his conviction by Sessions Court, Pune under Sections 304 and 34 IPC during pendency of the was appeal filed for. The reason being that the applicant  wanted to contest Municipal elections and to support his claim, the counsel on his behalf tried to rely upon Rajbala v. State of Haryana, (2016) 2 SCC 445 wherein it was held that right to vote and right to contest elections are the constitutional rights of a citizen and therefore, he was entitled to contest the elections.

While accepting the aversion of applicant that it was his constitutional right to contest elections, it held that at the same time object of legislature behind Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act too needs to be kept in mind. The object of the provision is to keep away the persons convicted of an offence and sentenced to 2 years or more than two years of imprisonment. Justice A.M. Badar decided to interpret the section purposively and held that just because the accused wishes to contest elections, the conviction can’t be stayed to fulfil his desire as it will be contrary to the statute.

Citing Navjot Sngh Sidhu v. State of Punjab, 2007 2 SCC 574 and other landmark cases on the point, the Court went on to declare that stay has to be granted only in exceptional circumstances, by exercising great circumspection and caution. While paying attention to the facts of the case and considering that the victim was injured due to election rivalry, there were chances that he might be trying to rope in as many opponents as possible; it still held that whatever are the facts and however high may the chances of acquittal of the applicant in appeal, it noted that object of legislature in keeping away the convicts from the contest of elections has to be given primacy while deciding such applications. [Navnath Sadashiv Taras v. State of Maharashtra, 2017 SCC OnLine Bom 118, decided on 1.02.2017]

 

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