September 25, 2013 5:53:19 pm
The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared an ordinance to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from immediate disqualification a move that seeks to nullify an order by the Supreme Court.
The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Ordinance,2013 allows convicted MPs and MLAs to continue in office if their appeal is admitted by a higher court within 90 days and the conviction stayed. But they wont be entitled to vote during House proceedings or draw salaries and allowances until the case is finally decided.
Earlier,the government failed to get a Bill to this effect passed in the monsoon session of Parliament due to pressure from the BJP. The Bill was then referred to the department-related standing committee.
On July 10,the Supreme Court had ruled that an MP or MLA would be immediately disqualified if convicted by a court in a criminal offence with a jail sentence of two years or more. The Supreme Court had struck down Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act,1951,which protects convicted legislators from disqualification if they appeal before a higher court within three months.
Holding that Parliament had exceeded its powers in providing such an immunity,the cout had ruled that Parliament lacked legislative competence to enact this provision since it was in direct conflict with Articles 101 and 102,which stipulate the principles for those who want to contest elections as well as those who have been elected.
The court had ruled that no relaxation could be given to a sitting MP or an MLA when an ordinary citizen is barred from contesting elections if he stands convicted on the date of polling.
Among the sitting MPs who could gain from the ordinance is Congress Rajya Sabha member Rashid Masood,who was recently convicted by a Delhi court in a corruption case and is scheduled to be sentenced on October 1. RJD chief and former Bihar chief minister Lalu Prasad too faced the prospect of losing his Lok Sabha seat if found guilty and sentenced to more than two years in jail in the fodder scam case to be decided on September 30.
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