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Jailed Politicians Amritpal Singh and Engineer Rashid Seek Parole to Attend Oath-Taking Ceremony

Sunday, June 9, 2024 | June 09, 2024 WIB
Jailed Politicians Amritpal Singh and Engineer Rashid Seek Parole to Attend Oath-Taking Ceremony
       Jailed Politicians Amritpal Singh and Engineer Rashid

New Delhi - With the surprising victories of jailed politicians Amritpal Singh and Engineer Rashid in the recent Lok Sabha elections, there have been queries regarding their abilities to assume their roles as MPs while still being undertrials. Both men won their respective seats - Amritpal winning Punjab's Khadoor Sahib constituency and Rashid taking the Baramulla seat in Kashmir - amidst ongoing legal battles involving allegations of terrorism.

Currently, Amritpal is held at Assam's Dibrugarh jail, having faced charges under the stringent National Security Act (NSA), along with various criminal cases concerning unauthorized usage of electronic devices within the facility. Meanwhile, Rashid remains in Delhi's Tihar Jail, accused of "terror financing" under the harsh Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 (UAPA), for the past five years. Despite these circumstances, both maintain a constitutional obligation to serve as legislators, requiring them to take the mandatory oath before the President.

History demonstrates that imprisoned officials might secure custody parole or interim bail to fulfill their duties. Recently, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) representative Sanjay Singh received such permissions when he took his oath as a Rajya Sabha member earlier this year. Similar accommodations were extended to jailed anti-CAA activist Akhil Gogoi, enabling him to briefly exit confinement for his inauguration into the Assam Legislative Assembly in 2021. Thus, it becomes essential for Amritpal and Rashid to pursue judicial intervention to facilitate their participation in the upcoming oath-taking ceremony.

As per current developments, Amritpal's counsel revealed plans to request interim bail post-victory. Simultaneously, Rashid filed a plea at Delhi's Patiala House Court seeking provisional relief or custody parole for attending the oath-taking event; a response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is expected shortly. Should they receive clearance, these politicians could participate in the ceremony, albeit returning to jail afterward. If denied, alternate options like virtual attendance via video conferencing remain possibilities worth exploring.

However, should convictions materialize, dire consequences follow suit. According to Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (RPA), convicted MPs face immediate loss of their Lok Sabha seats upon receiving minimum two-year prison terms. Subsequently, reelection bans span another six years beyond release dates. Furthermore, vacancies arise due to the terminated membership, warranting additional by-elections. Notably, previous provisions offering reprieves for filing appeals within three months were deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in Lily Thomas v. Union of India (2013).
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