Putting an end to speculation about the stand of the presiding officers of two Houses of Parliament in case any MP was convicted in a criminal case,the Attorney General (AG) has told the government and the Lok Sabha Speaker that RJD supremo Lalu Prasad and Congress Rajya Sabha MP Rasheed Masood were automatically disqualified from membership of their respective Houses immediately after they were convicted.
The AGs opinion had been sought by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar after confusion arose as to whether,as per the July 10 judgment of the Supreme Court,an MP who was convicted in a criminal court was disqualified immediately or if a decision in this regard had to be taken by the President as per Article 103 of the Constitution.
Under Article 103,which deals with disqualification of MPs,whenever a question arises as to whether a member of either House of Parliament attracts disqualification under any law,the matter must be referred for the decision of the President and his decision would be final. However,while deciding the question,the President is bound to obtain the opinion of the Election Commission (EC) and has to act according to the ECs opinion.
In his legal opinion,AG Goolam E Vahanvati has said the MPs stood disqualified with immediate effect after their conviction and issuance of notification in this regard was just procedural technicality.
In the past five days,while Masood has been convicted and sentenced to four years in jail by a Delhi court in a corruption case,former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad and JD(U) Lok Sabha member Jagdish Sharma have been sentenced in the fodder scam case.
While there was unanimity that Lalu,Masood and Sharma had lost their seats in Parliament under Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act,what nobody was sure of was the manner and process through which the disqualification would be carried out.