Chandigarh, July 3 (IANS) A convicted legislator in Punjab has been allowed by the Election Commission (EC) to vote in the July 19 presidential election.
An Election Commission spokesman clarified Tuesday that legislator Jagir Kaur, who was convicted in March this year in a case pertaining to the mysterious death of her daughter in April 2000, could cast her vote in the presidential election.
A legislator of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, Jagir Kaur is at present lodged in the Kapurthala jail, 200 km from here. She was a cabinet minister in the Parkash Singh Badal government when she was convicted. She was forced to resign following the verdict of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) special court in Patiala.
The EC spokesperson clarified that section 8(4) of Representation of People Act, 1951, reads: "Notwithstanding anything [in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3)], a disqualification under either sub-section shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a Member of Parliament or Legislature of a State, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence until that appeal or application is disposed off by the court."
He said: "Jagir Kaur was a sitting legislator in the Punjab assembly on the date (March 30, 2012) of her conviction by the competent court and she has appealed against the said conviction in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which has not yet been disposed of by the said court, the saving clause of above mentioned section is attracted in her case and she is not disqualified yet and continues to be a Member of Legislative Assembly of Punjab. Thus, she is entitled to vote in ensuing Presidential Election."
He said that if she is confined in a prison because of her above conviction, she can vote only in person, at the polling station and not by postal ballot. He said that for this purpose, she would have to seek and obtain permission on her own from the competent court.
Jagir Kaur, who was handling the rural water supply and sanitation and defence services portfolio, was forced to resign in March this year after the CBI court convicted and sentenced her to five years' rigorous imprisonment on counts of forcible abortion, wrongful confinement, abduction and criminal conspiracy.
Her daughter Harpreet had died under mysterious circumstances April 2000. The young woman had angered her mother and other family members by secretly marrying a youth, Kamaljit Singh, who belonged to a lower caste.
Jagir Kaur had been a president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the mini-parliament of the Sikh religion.