SC refused to disqualify Ministers with criminal cases

The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition on whether cabinet ministers with criminal cases can continue in the government. A five judge Constitution bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, RM Lodha, while delivering its verdict this morning, said it would leave the decision to keep or sack ministers to the Prime Minister.

The Central Government has argued that removing ministers is against the Constitutional prerogative of Parliament and the will of the people, and that “once a person is an MP, he is entitled to be in the council of ministers, if the Prime Minister decides.”

Observing that it cannot add disqualification in article 75(1) (on appointment of PM and council of ministers), the bench, however, cautioned the PM and CMs against considering people with criminal antecedents, and against whom charges have been framed in serious offences, including corruption, for appointment as ministers.

While the SC has dismissed the petition, two judges out of the five judge constitutional panel struck a dissenting note. They were of the opinion that, PM and CMs should not include people with criminal antecedents in their cabinet, but the decision rests with them. Majority verdict was that the decision should rest with the Prime Minister. The concurring judgment was given by three of the five judges. Supreme Court says it expects CMs and the PM not to appoint netas with criminal backgrounds. “The PM should decide if those with criminal background should stay in the cabinet, the SC said.”

Refusing to disqualify tainted netas, the Supreme Court further said that, “No disqualification can be prescribed. It is expected that the PM will not appoint persons against whom charges have been framed and he is facing trial. The PM and Chief Ministers should decide.”

Court while accepting the argument, it was observed that, “Constitution reposes immense trust in the PM and Chief Ministers and they are expected to act with responsibility and with constitutional morality.”

Read Full Judgement here

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