Jailed NCP leaders Malik, Deshmukh move SC for participation in floor test
A vacation bench of Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala was told by advocate Sudhanshu S Choudhuri that the two MLAs have been booked for offences under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and are in jail.
He said the two leaders want to participate in the Maharashtra legislative assembly floor test scheduled to be held on Thursday at 11 am.
Choudhuri said they are moving an intervention application which may be heard in the evening after the plea of Shiv Sena leader Sunil Prabhu challenging the decision taken by Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari asking the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) government to prove majority on Thursday.
The bench then said it would take up their application at 5.30 pm.
On June 20, the top court declined the plea of Malik and Deshmukh seeking temporary release from prison to cast their votes in the Maharashtra Legislative Council election.
A vacation bench had, however, issued notice to the Maharashtra government and others in the case and agreed to examine the issue relating to the interpretation of Section 62(5) of the Representation of the People Act 1951, which bars jailed persons from voting.
“In view of the larger question with respect to interpretation of Section 62(5) of Representation of the People Act 1951, we are of the view that matter has to be heard in detail. It’s open for the parties to complete the pleadings within four weeks.
“On the question of interim relief taking note of the fact that the constitutional validity of Section 62(5) was upheld by the Supreme Court in the Anukul Chandra Pradhan Vs Union of India case and S Radhakrishnan Vs Union of India, we are not inclined to grant interim relief,” the bench had said.
The Bombay High Court had on June 17 rejected the NCP leaders’ plea seeking temporary release from prison for casting their ballots saying the constitutional right to vote is not absolute.
Malik, who is still a cabinet minister in the state, and former Maharashtra home minister Anil Deshmukh, both of whom are in prison after being arrested in separate money laundering and corruption cases, had then sought the court’s permission to be let out of custody “for a few hours,” and “under escort protection” to vote.
The high court had rejected the pleas of the leaders, saying that while their lawyers argued that their clients must be permitted to vote to uphold democratic principles, the concept of democracy “transcended electoral democracy.”
The embargo in law, imposed via section 62 (5) of the Representation of the People Act, was based on reason, the high court had said, adding that it has been imposed to ensure “purity of electoral process and probity of the participants therein.”
The two leaders had moved the court earlier contending that as they are members of the Legislative Assembly and representatives of their respective constituencies, they ought to be given the opportunity to vote in the Council election.
“The claim to the exercise of this constitutional right can, by no stretch of the imagination, be said to be absolute,” the high court had said in the judgement.
Earlier, Malik and Deshmukh had moved the courts for temporary bail for voting in the June 10 Rajya Sabha election from Maharashtra but were denied relief.
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