New Delhi: The centre has told the Supreme Court that there’s nothing in any of the laws relating to the registration of political parties that stops a convicted person from becoming a member of a political party.

The centre was replying to a plea seeking a ban on convicted persons from forming political parties and becoming their office-bearers for the period they are disqualified under the election law.

The centre said such a contingency has to be distinguished from the bar on persons convicted under criminal law from contesting an election to Parliament or sate legislature by virtue of the Representation of People’s Act, 1951.

The public interest litigation (PIL), brought by Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay, apart from seeking a ban on convicted persons from forming a political party and becoming political office-bearer for the period that he is disqualified for registration in electoral roll, also seeks an order authorizing the Election Commission to register and de-register such political parties.

In a 12-page affidavit, the centre submitted that the “post-holder" of a political party is not a representative and that the appointment of post-holder is a matter of party autonomy.

The Election Commission cannot be prevented from registering a political party merely because a particular post-holder is not qualified to contest elections, it added. Nonetheless, the need for “electoral reforms" was acknowledged.

The matter is listed for hearing next on 26 March.

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