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India Supreme Court rules convicted lawmakers must vacate positions

The Supreme Court of India [official website] ruled [judgment, PDF] Wednesday that elected representatives convicted of serious crimes must vacant their positions immediately and be disqualified from future elections. The court's judgment struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act [text, PDF], which permitted convicted members of the House of Parliament, Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council of the State to remain in office if they filed an appeal. The judges stressed that the ruling does not affect convicted lawmakers who have pending appeals prior to the court's judgment. The Association for Democratic Reforms [advocacy website] reported that 1,400 elected representatives have declared criminal cases.

Corruption remains a serious issue in India. Last year JURIST Columnist Edsel Tupaz and Guest Columnist Joan Martinez argued that the stalled anti-corruption legislation [JURIST report] before the Indian Parliament should do more to fight corruption [JURIST report], particularly by creating a more powerful ombudsman position to hold government officials accountable. According to the authors, "India's Parliament must make sure that its proposed ombudsman will wield strong, concrete and independent powers beyond nominal authority."

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