Friday, Mar 01, 2002
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NEW DELHI, FEB. 28.
Leaders of the Congress and the BJP might be issuing public statements about the need to keep people with proven criminal record away from the electoral arena. However, when it comes to practice, they do just the opposite.
At least two such cases have come to light -- one each for both parties -- where candidates who were convicted by court and ordered imprisonment went on to contest and enter the Municipal Corporation of Delhi. Both parties have preferred to remain silent.
Senior officials of the State Election Commission said they received a communication from the Central Vigilance Commissioner for initiating appropriate action for disqualification of the BJP Councillor from South Patel Nagar, Madan Lal Balmiki, as he was convicted and ordered several years of imprisonment by a court on charges of attempt to murder, dacoity, land grabbing and encroachment. At present he is on bail and has appealed before a higher court against the order.
``We received the letter from the CVC only recently and it was too late for us as the preparation for the poll process has begun,'' said a senior official.
``Moreover, the term of the present House was also coming to an end, otherwise we would have issued a show-cause notice and initiated proceedings for his disqualification. All this takes time as we follow the procedures of a civil court,'' the official said.
It is quite surprising that senior BJP leaders have ignored the issue and Balmiki continued to be a member of the House.
Another case is that of Mahender Yadav, a Congress Councillor from Badli, who again has been convicted and sentenced for three years' imprisonment by a court for attempt to murder. He too has appealed to a higher court against the order.
Referring to recent orders by Supreme Court and High Courts, Commission officials said they should have been disqualified by now. ``But no action has been taken against them either by the MCD or by their parties,'' he said. It is understood that both candidates have applied to their parties seeking re-nomination.
For his part, the Delhi Mayor, Shanti Desai, said the MCD had no powers to initiate action against any Councillor if convicted by a court. ``There is no such provision in the MCD Act,'' he said.
It is only the State Election Commission which is empowered to take action and disqualify a Councillor, and this comes with a rider. ``We can initiate action only after someone challenges a Councillor's qualification or makes a complaint,'' the official said.
``Though we are taking measures to ensure criminals do not enter the election scene, under the existing laws they can contest and win. Our role comes only when someone challenges or makes a complaint,'' he said.
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