Prime Minister to decide the disqualification of minister of Council of Ministers having criminal antecedents

Supreme Court: Dismissing the decade old petition seeking disqualification of the Ministers of the Council of Ministers involved in serious and heinous crime, the constitutional bench of R.M. Lodha, CJ and Dipak Misra, S.A. Bobde, Madan B. Lokur and Kurian Joseph, JJ held that the decision should be left to the Prime Minister as it is a constitutional expectation from him that he would not choose a person with criminal antecedents against whom charges have been framed for heinous or serious criminal offences or charges of corruption to become a Minister of the Council of Ministers.

The Court heavily relied upon the background of the Constitution of India and the History of the country with the intent to plug some of the bleeding points in the working of the Constitution so that the high Constitutional functionaries may work it well. Taking into consideration that a question might arise regarding marking a distinction between an accused or convicted minister,  the Court was of the opinion that there can be no dispute over the proposition that unless a person is convicted, he is presumed to be innocent but the presumption of innocence in criminal jurisprudence is something altogether different, and not to be considered for being chosen as a Minister to the Council of Ministers because framing of charge in a criminal case is totally another thing and that framing of charge in a trial has its own significance and consequence.

In the present writ petition, which was filed in the wake of corruption and criminalization of politics, the petitioner and respondent were represented by Anil K. Jha and Paras Kuhad, respectively and Rakesh Dwivedi, K. Parasaran and T. R. Andhyarujina acted as amicus curie in the said matter. Manoj Narula v. Union of India, Writ Petition (Civil) No. 289 of 2005, decided on 27.08.2014.

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