With the Lok Sabha Secretariat on Tuesday issuing formal notifications disqualifying jailed RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) member Jagdish Sharma from the Lok Sabha following their conviction in the fodder scam case,the duo may not be able to contest elections for the next decade.
Lalu and Sharma are the first sitting Lok Sabha members to be disqualified after the Supreme Courts order on July 10 striking down a provision in the Representation of the People Act,1951,which protected a convicted lawmaker from disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal in a higher court.
Sources in Parliament told The Indian Express that Lalu,Sharma and Rasheed Masood,who was disqualified from the Rajya Sabha on Monday,would be entitled to the pension and perks given to former MPs.
Unless the Jharkhand HC stays their conviction,both Lalu and Sharma wont be able to contest any elections for the next decade. As per the Representation of the People Act,1951,a lawmaker convicted in a criminal case stands disqualified with immediate effect and is disqualified from becoming an MP or MLA for a period of six years in addition to the prison term. Thus,while Lalu stands disqualified for a total of 11 years five years of jail term plus six years subsequent to his release Sharma stands disqualified for 10 years four years in jail and six more years.
Lalu has already moved the HC challenging the CBI courts judgment,while Sharma is likely to follow suit. However,experts said the court was unlikely to stay their conviction.
The Lok Sabha Secretariats notification on disqualification of the two MPs came after two legal opinions submitted to Speaker Meira Kumar by Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati. In his first opinion,Vahanvati said Lalu and Sharma were automatically disqualified from LS membership after they were convicted. His opinion was sought following confusion over whether an MP convicted by a criminal court would be disqualified immediately,or if a decision in this regard had to be taken by the President as per Article 103 of the Constitution.
Vahanvati opined that the MPs stood disqualified with immediate effect after their conviction and the issuance of notification in this regard was just a procedural technicality.
Thereafter,the Speaker asked if the disqualification order should be issued only after the highest court adjudicated the correctness of the trial court verdict,and who would issue the notification Ministry of Law,Election Commission or the LS secretariat? Vahanvati,while reiterating that the MPs stood disqualified immediately after the trial court judgment,said the notification should be issued by the LS Secretariat.