M A I N   N E W S

Convicted lawmakers can contest polls
Cabinet negates Supreme Court order, clears ordinance to shield such MPs and MLAs 
Aditi Tandon/TNS

New Delhi, September 24
The Cabinet today cleared an ordinance aimed at nullifying a recent Supreme Court judgment that said lawmakers convicted of offences punishable with two years or more would automatically stand disqualified from the membership of the Parliament or state legislatures from the date of conviction by a trial court.

Reversing the apex court order, the Cabinet -- chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh -- approved the ordinance which says convicted MPs and MLAs can stay in office and contest elections if they have appealed against the conviction and the said appeal has been admitted for hearing by a higher court within 90 days of conviction by the trial court.

Simply put, conviction of a lawmaker won’t automatically lead to his disqualification from the legislature till the time the appeal is pending and the conviction finally adjudicated upon. If the sentence of conviction is stayed by a higher court, the ordinance would equally apply. The SC had contrarily said all convicted lawmakers would stand disqualified from the date of conviction by the trial court and would not enjoy immunity.

The ordinance reverses the SC intent. The only power, it says, convicted lawmakers would not enjoy is the right to draw salary and allowances and the eight to vote in House proceedings.

Importantly, the ordinance comes just in time for RJD chief Lalu Yadav, who could (as per the SC order) could lose his Lok Sabha membership if convicted in the years-old fodder scam in which September 30 is the judgment day. Also, the ordinance follows Congress Rajya Sabha member Rashid Masood’s conviction in a corruption case by a special CBI court. As Minister of State for Health in the VP Singh government in 1991, he had fraudulently nominated undeserving candidates to MBBS seats.

Today’s ordinance assures immunity to the likes of Masood though the Congress rejected suggestions that the timing of the approval was well suited for the RJD, its potential ally for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

“The Supreme Court order needed to be overcome as it would have made the functioning of political parties impossible. The idea is not to save convicted MPs and MLAs. The idea is only to grant them the right to appeal as provided in the law. All political parties agreed to the need to overcome the new atmosphere created by the apex court decision. The Government’s intent was to pass the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013, in the monsoon session. Since that could not happen, an ordinance has been brought,” PC Chacko, Congress spokesperson said justifying the development.

The SC had on July 10 struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of People’s Act which protected convicted lawmakers from immediate disqualification. The SC held this Section ultra vires of the Constitution.

The ordinance has been referred to a standing committee of Parliament and will have to be replaced with a Bill within six weeks of the first sitting of the next Parliament session to remain effective.

The move follows failed attempts by the Congress-led UPA to bring a constitutional amendment to nullify the SC's order during the monsoon session. The BJP had refused support to the amendments to RPA, which Law Minister Kapil Sibal had moved in Parliament recently.





HOME PAGE | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Opinions |
| Business | Sports | World | Letters | Chandigarh | Ludhiana | Delhi |
| Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |