Lawmakers can practice law, Parliament to decide on criminal netas: SC

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Supreme Court

The Supreme Court today ruled that it is for the Parliament to decide whether lawmakers facing criminal charges should be barred from contesting election or should be disqualified once convicted.

The Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked political parties and politicians to publish their criminal records at least three times in newspapers and TV channels after filing of nomination papers.

A five-judge bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, Justice RF Nariman, AN Khanwilkar, DY Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra while announcing the verdict  also said that citizens have a right to be informed about the antecedents of their candidates.

Currently,  those convicted of  crimes like murder, rape and kidnapping cannot contest the elections.

The petitions have been opposed by the Centre stating that it was not within the domain of the courts to add new disqualifications, which are not found in the statute.

In an affidavit filed by the Central Government, it was revealed that a total of 1,765 representatives, including MPs and MLAs, a little over a third of all representatives in India, face criminal charges.

Last year, a two-judge bench of the SC asked the government to set up 12 special courts across 11 states and Delhi to deal with cases related to elected representatives.

In another landmark judgement today the Supreme Court today ruled that Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MPs and MLAs) cannot be barred from practicing law.

The Court announced that Rule 49 of the the Bar Council of India Rules is applicable only to full-time salaried employees, and does not cover legislators within its ambit.

The petition regarding the same was filed by BJP Spokesperson Ashwani Kumar Upadhyay.

The judgment was delivered by a Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.

The Central Government has opposed the petition contending that a Member of Parliament (MP) is an elected representative, and is not a full-time employee of the Government of India, and hence cannot be stopped from practicing law.

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