New Delhi, March 24
The ordinance which then Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi had casually trashed as “nonsense” would have come to his aid today, had he grasped its consequences.
The ordinance approved by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh led UPA-2 Cabinet on September 24, 2013 had been brought to nullify a July 2013 Supreme Court order that had struck down a provision in the Representation of People’s Act that allowed convicted lawmakers three months to appeal their conviction and saved them from disqualification during that period.
SC had in the “Lily Thomas versus Union of India” case of 2013 struck down Section 8 (4) of the RPA Act, 1951 that not only granted the protection of 3 months from disqualification to MPs and MLAs, it also said if the sitting convicted lawmaker was to file an appeal or revision within these three months from the date he/she was convicted, he can’t be disqualified till the disposal of the appeal or the revision.
The ordinance had been brought days before then RJD chief was convicted in the fodder scam.
Gandhi, arriving unscheduled at a press conference in Delhi, where his colleague Ajay Maken, then AICC media in charge, had elaborately defended the ordinance, had declared, “What the Congress has done and what our government has done is wrong. People will give you political lines, but I will tell you what I personally feel about this ordinance. It is complete nonsense and should be torn apart and thrown away.”
Though Rahul never personally tore up the ordinance (as it widely said), he said trashing the ordinance: “In my organisation, arguments were made that we need this ordinance because of political considerations and everyone does this - the BJP, Congress, JDU and the SP. It is time to stop this nonsense.”
Though Rahul had, at the time, termed his comments about the ordinance as “personal”, they resonated deeply and the UPA government recalled the ordinance, leaving the same Rahul Gandhi with little or no recourse from disqualification in the instant case where a Surat court convicted him with a two year sentence in a defamation case.
The UPA-2 had wanted to nullify the SC judgment that struck down the relief granted by the Representation of People’s Act to convicted lawmakers by introducing in Parliament the “Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill 2013” through ordinance route.
Kapil Sibal, who recently quit the Congress, was UPA law minister in 2013 and had piloted the bill.
“We recall Rahul Gandhi’s famous 2013 press conference where he suggested that the ordinance brought to give relief to convicted MPs be torn up. Today Rahul Gandhi must be feeling hurt having himself called the ordinance nonsense. Looks like the Congress was worried that Gandhi will lose his membership one day. He stands trapped in the consequences of his own actions.” — Dharmendra Pradhan
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