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(Rptg, correcting figure in para four, line two)

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) In an attempt to check the inclusion of persons with criminal background in the cabinet, the Supreme Court today issued notices to the Centre, all states and Union territories on a PIL, seeking to drop all the tainted ministers from the Union Cabinet.

A bench comprising Chief Justice Y K Sabharwal and Mr Justice C K Thakkar also referred the matter to the constitution bench as issues of good governance, purity of system, equality and public perception, both internal as well as international were involved.

Responding to the contention of Additional Solicitor Gopal Subbramaniam that the presumption of innocence is in favour of an accused, unless and until he has been convicted by a court of law, the court asked, ''Would you appoint a person of such a background as a judge or an election commissioner?'' The court, however, directed petitioner Manoj Narula to delete the names of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and five rpt five allegedly tainted ministers -- Mohammed Taslimudin, A A Fatmi, Premchand Gupta, Jaiprakash Narain Yadav and Lalu Prasad --from the list of respondents.

The court granted four weeks time to the Centre and the states to file their response to the petition.

The petitioner has contended that inclusion of persons with dubious and criminal background in the council of ministers was hitting at the root of the credibility of the governance. The court may now consider the cases of all persons facing criminal cases and charges of moral turpitude, who are ministers not only at the Centre but in the state governments also.


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