Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren will be looking for some quick legal and political moves after he is disqualified as legislator, for having a mining contract with the state government despite being in office. The Governor may announce the disqualification. This means Mr Soren loses his assembly membership. He and his cabinet will then have to resign. In Mr Soren’s case, the disqualification is not under the anti-defection law. Here, Section 9A of the Representation of People Act applies.
The Whole Issue:
- The case against him has its roots in a mining lease that he gave himself as a Minister for Mines in 2021. The BJP complained to the Governor on February 11, 2022, that this act was in violation of Section 9(A) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
- On August 25, the ECI wrote to the Governor that Mr. Soren could be disqualified under Section 9(A). The awarding of a mining lease to himself was a brazen act of self-service, misuse of office and breach of people’s trust.
What is Section 9A of The Representation of the People Act, 1951:
As per Section 9A in The Representation of the People Act, 1951, “a person shall be disqualified if, and for so long as, there subsists a contract entered into by him in the course of his trade or business with the appropriate Government for the supply of goods to, or for the execution of any works undertaken by, that Government.”
Section 9 in The Representation of the People Act, 1951:
- Meanwhile, Section 9 in The Representation of the People Act, 1951 refers to disqualification for dismissal for corruption or disloyalty. Section 9 in The Representation of the People Act, 1951 has been divided into two parts. Sub-section (1) of Section 9 says, “A person who having held an office under the Government of India or under the Government of any State has been dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty to the State shall be disqualified for a period of five years from the date of such dismissal.”
- Meanwhile, sub-section (2) says, a certificate issued by the Election Commission to the effect that a person having held office under the Government of India or under the Government of a State, has or has not been dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty to the State shall be conclusive proof of that fact: Provided that no certificate to the effect that a person has been dismissed for corruption or for disloyalty to the State shall be issued unless an opportunity of being heard has been given to the said person.”
The Options Available:
After Mr Soren’s seat falls vacant, Election Commission has to hold a bypoll election within 6 months. Mr Soren can recontest and get the seat back. Law says an MLA guilty of conflict of interest can even be barred from contesting elections for up to five years, as per experts. Sources say Mr Soren isn’t getting that punishment.