ECI relief brings back Golay in electoral field

A SE file photo shows an emotional P.S. Golay waving to the SKM workers at Singtam bazaar on August 10, 2018. His reception was held at Singtam bazaar after he was released from Rongyek jail upon completion of his one year’s sentence. The disqualific
Mon, Sep 30, 2019

Disqualification period reduced, SKM chief to contest from Poklok-Kamrang

Staff Reporter
The Election Commission of India (ECI) on Sunday reduced the disqualification period of SKM president and Chief Minister P.S. Golay to a period of one year and one month from the date of his release from the prison.
Golay, convicted under a Prevention of Corruption Act case, had been released on August 10, 2018 from Rongyek Jail near Gangtok after serving his one year sentence.
Golay completed the new disqualification period of one year and one month as granted by the ECI earlier this month on September 10. This has opened the doors for him to file his nomination from Poklok-Kamrang constituency on Monday, the last date for accepting candidature by the Returning Officer.
Later in the evening, the SKM parliamentary board announced Golay as the SKM candidate for Poklok-Kamrang constituency.
Till the relief from the ECI, it was contended that the SKM president could not contest any elections for a period of six years starting August 10, 2018 as per Section 8 of the Representation of The People Act 1951. Accordingly, he did not contest the 2019 Assembly elections but led his party to an electoral victory with 17 seats.
Golay took oath as the Chief Minister of Sikkim on May 27 and as per Constitutional provisions, he needed to be elected as a MLA within six months to legitimise his appointment.
As per the ECI order released on Sunday, Golay had submitted an application to the ECI in July to remove the disqualification from contesting elections. It was submitted that the case concerns the period of 1996-1997 and the FIR was registered in March 2003.
The ECI order was signed by Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioner Ashok Lavasa and Election Commissioner Sushil Chandra.
The ECI noted that it is a matter of fact that before the amendment of Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act in 2003, the disqualification would have been attracted only if the period of conviction was of two years and more.
“The applicant has submitted that when the alleged offence was committed under Prevention of Corruption Act 1988, it did not amount to a disqualification under Section 8 and therefore the applicant should not be made to suffer only because of the delay in completion of his trial,” the order reads.
It was also submitted to the ECI about the two precedents in removal of disqualification and implied pardon by the Governor through administering the oath of office and invitation to form the government.
In its order, the ECI observed that the representation made by Golay for relief seems to be an appropriate case for the commission to exercise the power under section 11 of the 1951 Act and thus, reduced his disqualification period from six years to one year and one month.
It was noted by the commission that the year (1996-97) in which the offence by Golay was committed, a punishment of minimum of two years was warranted under the Prevention of Corruption Act for attracting disqualification. The particular section of the said Act, under which he was convicted, has already been omitted by an amendment in 2018, said the commission.
Golay was given the minimum prescribed punishment for the said offence where the maximum punishment could have run upto 7 years, said the ECI. He has already undergone that punishment; and his party under his leadership has been given the mandate of the people in the recently concluded Sikkim Assembly Elections 2019, said the commission.
The ruling SKM has welcomed the decision of the ECI.
“We welcome the decision of the ECI to allow our party president and Chief Minister to contest the elections,” said SKM spokesperson Jacob Khaling to SIKKIM EXPRESS.
Khaling said the decision vindicates the unmovable faith the party workers had on Golay and his leadership.
“The opposition parties used to relentlessly throw documents stating that Golay cannot contest elections for six years. Such propaganda would have demoralised any party worker but our SKM workers remained dedicated and never lost hope. The relief given to Golay vindicates their faith and a result of their long struggle. We congratulate our party workers,” said the SKM spokesperson.

Area: 7096 Sq Km
Altitude: 5,840 ft
Population: 6.10 Lakhs
Topography: Hilly terrain elevation from 600 ft. to over 28,509 ft above sea level
Summer: Max- 21°C ; Min – 13°C
Winter: Max -13°C ; Min – 0.48°C
Rainfall: 325 cm per annum
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