Updated May 31st, 2024 at 14:18 IST

Can Contest, But Can't Vote: Amritpal Singh in Race From Khadoor Sahib | Decoding India's Law

Curiosity remains to know how Amritpal Singh can contest the elections but cannot vote. Let's decode India's election laws individuals imprisoned.

Reported by: Digital Desk
After a month-long chase, Amritpal Singh was arrested and was slapped with NSA charges including assault, kidnapping, rash or negligent driving. | Image:File
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Amritsar: As India heads for the seventh and final phase of the Lok Sabha elections 2024, imprisoned pro-Khalistani leader Amritpal Singh, almost 2,300 km away in Assam, is contesting elections from Punjab's Khadoor Sahib seat. Singh expressed his wish to contest in elections in early April which raised concerns among other leaders, with some saying his contest in the polls is a "conspiracy to destabilise Punjab," as per reports.

Punjab, one of the most crucial states in this final phase as all 13 seats go to polls, has been in a stir after the head of the Khalistani Waris Punjab De, Amritpal was arrested. Singh has been accused of several criminal offences such as kidnapping, assault and attempted murder. Ever since he arrived from Dubai in 2022, Amritpal began making speeches about taking the youngsters back to "true Sikhi" and giving them shastra vidya (knowledge of weapons).

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After a month-long chase, Amritpal Singh was arrested and was slapped with NSA charges including assault, kidnapping, rash or negligent driving.

Curiosity remains to know how Amritpal Singh can contest the elections but cannot vote. Let's decode India's election laws for those voters and candidates who are imprisoned.

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'Right to Vote- A Statutory Right'

In 1975, in the Indira Gandhi Vs Raj Narain case, the Supreme Court of India recognised that 'free and fair elections' are a part of the ‘basic structure’ of the Indian Constitution and any laws or policies violating this principle could be struck down. Since then, free and fair elections have always been kept on the highest pedestal, but your right to vote can be withheld.

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In 2006, in the case of Kuldip Nayar Vs Union of India, a five-judge constitution Bench held that the right to vote (or the right to elect as it was called) was a "pure and simple, a statutory right," meaning that voting is not a fundamental right and can be repealed.

Section 62 of the RP Act provides a series of restrictions on the right to vote including sub-clause (5) which states in broad terms "No person shall vote at any election if he is confined in a prison, whether under a sentence of imprisonment or transportation or otherwise, or is in the lawful custody of the police."

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Can a Person Imsprioned Person Contest Elections?

As per Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, a person convicted or sentenced to a prison term for over 2 years, then he or she automatically stands disqualified from contesting elections for six years from the date of release from prison.

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This disqualification means that a person who has only been convicted of offences can contest in the elections.

Earlier, Congress MP Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as a Member of Parliament (from Wayanad) after he was convicted and sentenced in a defamation case by a Surat court in April 2023. However, after the Supreme Court put a hold on the sentencing, he was later reinstated as an MP.

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Published May 31st, 2024 at 14:18 IST