Disqualification of MPs: Govt likely to consult parties before responding to SC
Posted on: 09:10 PM IST Jul 11, 2013
New Delhi: Government is likely to consult political parties before firming up its response on the Supreme Court judgement on disqualification of lawmakers. Government's legal arm, the Law Ministry, is going through the fine print of the order, parts of which have apparently not gone down well with political parties.
Sources said the next step of the government would depend on the response of the political parties which are likely to be consulted in the coming days. The focus of the study is the part of the verdict which seeks to remove the discrimination between an ordinary individual and an elected lawmaker who enjoys protection under the Representation of the People's Act.
The sources said political parties, who have been guarded in their response, may suggest moving a larger bench of the apex court or even taking a legislative route to overturn the judgement. "It is a 41-page verdict. We need to study it...people who will implement it and people who will come under its purview also need to study it," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said.
He said in his personal opinion, "prima facie, no one should have objection" to the verdict. Commenting on the contention that cases could be filed out of political rivalry, Tewari opined that any judgement by a court comes after a trial process. "If the court reaches a conclusion, it should be respected."
In a landmark judgement that could cleanse Parliament and Assemblies of criminals, the apex court had on Wednesday struck down a provision in the electoral law that protects a convicted lawmaker from disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal in higher courts. Under Sec 8(3) of the RPA, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified for that and a further six years after release.
The following sub-section 8(4) says a lawmaker cannot be disqualified for three months from the conviction and if in that period he or she files an appeal against till its disposal by a higher court. "The only question is about the vires of section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction," a bench of justices AK Patnaik and SJ Mukhopadhaya said. The court, however, said that its decision will not apply to convicted MPs and MLAs who have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.