Barred by law from contesting elections for six years after completing his one-year prison term in a graft case in 2018, Sikkim Chief Minister Prem Singh Tamang’s disqualification was sharply reduced to just a year and a month by the Election Commission of India (ECI).

While he did not contest the Sikkim Assembly elections held earlier this year, the Sikkim Krantikari Morcha (SKM) leader and BJP ally was appointed as Chief Minister. Following the ECI order, he will now be eligible to contest polls.

Powers to Election Commission
In their order, Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora and Election Commissioners Ashok Lavasa and Sushil Chandra reduced Mr Tamang’s period of disqualification citing Section 11 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, which allows the ECI to reduce or remove disqualification “for reasons to be recorded”.

The ECI’s order said the “alleged offence” for which the SKM leader had been convicted in 2016 went back to 1996-1997, when the minimum punishment of two years would lead to disqualification under the RP Act.

The order noted that Mr. Tamang had been sentenced to one year imprisonment on December 26, 2016 and that the section of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, under which he was convicted, had been omitted in an amendment in 2018. He completed the one-year sentence on August 10, 2018.

When was he convicted?
The case pertained to his tenure as State Animal Husbandry Minister, when he was accused and convicted of misappropriating funds in the procurement of cows.

“…Commission needs to tread its path carefully so that a person attracting minimum punishment under a particular Act should not face the same disqualification as is applied to those who are convicted for longer or maximum period under the statute,” the ECI order said.

Source: The Hindu