Supreme court refuses to disqualify tainted ministers

A five-judge bench headed by chief justice of India said it is leaving the decision to the “prime minister's wisdom”.

GN Bureau | August 27, 2014

The supreme court (SC) on Wednesday said it cannot not disqualify tainted ministers in the union and state cabinets with criminal cases against them.

Disposing off a 2005 PIL seeking removal of the then four chargesheeted ministers in Manmohan Singh-led  UPA  cabinet — Lalu Prasad, Mohammed Taslimuddin, M.A.A. Fatmi and Jai Prakash Yadav – a five judge bench headed by chief justice of India RM Lodha said it is leaving the decision to the “Prime Minister's wisdom”.

“Article 75 of the constitution does not contain any limitation as to who can or cannot be included in the council of ministers,” the bench said.

The centre had in its reply pointed to article 75 only underlining further that it is the cabinet’s prerogative to drop a minister. “Once a person is an MP, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers, if the prime minister decides,” the centre had submitted.

SC bench, however, pointed in its judgment that “Constitution reposes immense trust in the PM and chief ministers and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality.”

The bench further raised: “whether a person who has come in conflict with law would be in a position to conscientiously discharge his functions as minister when his integrity is questioned and whether a person with doubtful integrity can be given the responsibility.”

There are 14 ministers in the Modi government, who have criminal cases against them including, murder, rioting and corruption. Among them, senior BJP leaders Nitin Gadkari and Uma Bharti, both part of the Modi cabinet have criminal cases against them.

In 2013, SC had ruled that MPs and MLAs shall be disqualified if convicted by a court and sentenced to two years imprisonment or more.



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