oppn parties Sikkim: Tamang Saved By A Controversial Ruling From The Watchdog

News Snippets

  • The government decides to decriminalize more than two-thirds of penal sections in the Companies Act
  • Muslim groups tell the Supreme Court that they want the Babri Masjid to be restored
  • Muslim groups claim that while they were asked questions in court, Hindus were not questioned
  • Postpaid mobile services restored in Jammu & Kashmir from today, but still no internet
  • Abhijit Banerjee, an Indian-American currently a professor at MIT, wins the 2019 Noble prize in economics jointly with two others
  • Industrial output slumps in August as the IIP shrinks by 1.1%
  • Prime Minister Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping watch a cultural show at the Shore Temple in Mamallapuram
  • J&K administration lifts the ban on entry of tourists in the Valley, but it remains doubtful how many will visit without being able to use mobile phones and internet
  • After Sena asks members to support the BJP candidate in Kalyan, 26 party corporators and 300 members resign setting off a crisis
  • The Centre sets up a 12-member committee to suggest systemic changes in the GST structure to improve compliance and collection, prevent misuse and evasion and rationalize rates and slabs
  • In line with the RBI outlook on the Indian economy, rating firm Moody's also downgrades growth forecast from 6.8% to 5.8% this year, saying the economy is experiencing a pronounced slowdown
  • HDFC chairman Deepak Parekh says the financial system in India does not offer foolproof security for misuse of the savings of the common man
  • Shivinder Singh and Malvinder Singh, promoters of Ranbaxy and Fortis, arrested for their role in Religare Finvest scam
  • Supreme Court says marriage can be dissolved if it has broken down irretrievably
  • DA of Central government staff hiked by 5% to 17%
Sourav Ganguly is the new president of BCCI, says conflict of interest is a big concern
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Sikkim: Tamang Saved By A Controversial Ruling From The Watchdog

By Sunil Garodia

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.

Consider the scenario. A by-election is coming up in Sikkim. The unelected chief minister, who was appointed to the position in blatant disregard of the Supreme Court’s order in the Jayalalitha case, has to be elected to the legislature by November 23. Fortunately, the election is to be held on October 21. But there is a problem. The chief minister has been disqualified from contesting elections for 6 years due to his conviction in a corruption case earlier. So does the chief minister leave his position like an ethical man? No. If he was ethical, would he have become the chief minister in the first place?

Then what is the solution? In comes the ‘friendly’ Election Commission (EC). It reduces the period of disqualification from 6 years to just one year and one month, a period that has already elapsed since he was released from jail on August 10, 2018. There is no precedent for such a decision. It remains a mystery how the EC arrived at the figure of one year and one month. Yes, the EC does have discretionary powers in this regard, but the timing of the decision and the fact that it is unprecedented makes it dubious and controversial.

Prem Singh Tamang’s appointment itself was arguably illegal if one goes strictly by the Supreme Court’s judgment in Jayalalitha’s case. The court had then ruled that if “the Governor does appoint as Chief Minister a person who is not qualified to be a member of the legislature or who is disqualified to be such, the appointment is contrary to the provisions of Article 164 of the Constitution, as we have interpreted it, and the authority of the appointee to hold the appointment can be challenged in quo warranto proceedings. That the Governor has made the appointment does not give the appointee any higher right to hold the appointment. If the appointment is contrary to constitutional provisions it will be struck down.” Although the case filed against his appointment has still not been decided, given the similarities with the Jayalalitha case, it will in all probability be decided against him.

But in the meantime, courtesy the EC, Tamang has already filed his nomination and will obviously win the bypoll and become a ‘legal’ chief minister. The pending case would then become infructuous. But what has happened is neither morally correct nor in support of clean politics. That a person who was convicted and jailed for corruption has been shown such leniency sets a dangerous precedent. If the present law states that the ban should be for 6 years, no leniency should have been shown to Tamang just because the law was different when he committed the crime. The law as applicable on the day he was released from jail should have been considered. The EC should not have reduced the period of disqualification. The Centre is fighting corruption by dismissing corrupt government officers. But if the BJP supports such politicians, the fight against corruption will have no meaning. After all, how will corrupt chief ministers clean corrupt bureaucracies?