The Supreme Court Monday rejected a plea seeking that its order on disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs be made effective even in case of legislators who were held guilty of serious offences before the judgment.
A Bench of Justices A K Patnaik and A K Sikri said the judgment could not be made effective for those MPs and MLAs who had incurred disqualification prior to July 10 when the apex court had passed the order in view of the reasons already given by the court in its verdict. In its judgment,the Bench had said sitting members could not be disqualified because the law was being interpreted by the court post their election.
The court also said the plea was not maintainable because the appropriate remedy was to file a review petition instead of an application.
In a separate order passed on another application by the same petitioner,the Bench declined to issue directions for issuing notifications to declare as vacant the parliamentary seats of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress leader Rasheed Masood after their conviction by trial courts.
If the vacancies in both the Houses have not been notified,the cause of action for petitioner may be a fresh one. Therefore,the application is dismissed, it said.
S N Shukla,who represented NGO Lok Prahari in the matter,had moved the application to get the judgment modified to the extent that disqualification shall apply even in cases of those sitting members of Parliament and Assemblies who were convicted prior to July 10.
Shukla claimed that there were at least 24 MPs and MLAs who got off the hook because of the courts relaxation that its judgment will not apply to such MPs and MLAs who were convicted prior to its judgment and their appeal or revision petitions were pending before the superior court.
However,Shukla urged in his plea that the distinction has created two classes of convicted sitting MPs and MLAs those who lose their membership and those who can retain it,although they incur the disqualification under the same constitutional principle.
In case of all sitting MPs and MLAs,the law declared in the judgment should apply equally at least from the date of the judgment,irrespective of the date of conviction. Once the impugned provision has been struck down,the protection provided by it also goes for all sitting members as the law cannot apply selectively to some of them and not others, stated the plea.
Shuklas second application demanded order to the authorities for issuance of notifications to declare the two parliamentary seats vacant.
Court seeks law panel view on de-criminalisation of politics
Express News Service
New Delhi,December 16
The Supreme Court (SC) asked the Law Commission Monday whether MPs and MLAs charged with serious offences should be disqualified and barred from contesting elections.
A bench of justices R M Lodha and Shivakirti Singh asked the Commission to also examine if a candidate should be disqualified for submitting a false affidavit at the time of filing nomination and a mechanism to verify such affidavits.
The apex court said since the Commission was already carrying out research and preparing a comprehensive report on electoral reforms,it could expeditiously submit a report on these two aspects by February 2014.
The court was hearing a PIL filed by NGO Public Interest Foundation to ban people charged with criminal offences from contesting polls.
The Election Commission (EC) has already proposed to the SC that a person against whom a court has framed charges for offences punishable with a jail term of five or more years should be barred from contesting polls.
The EC has said in an affidavit that a person named in a case ceases to have the integrity that is a must for any candidate seeking high public office.
(After the framing of charges),the integrity and character of the accused are under scrutiny and he ceases to have the requisite excellence and integrity to be considered a candidate for high public office, it said.
The EC said it was pertinent to note that charges are framed against an accused after judicial scrutiny of allegations and evidence. It said charges are framed only after a court finds that a prima facie case exists.
The SC bench was informed by Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad Monday that the government had requested the Law Commission in January to propose measures on a variety of issues relating to electoral reforms.
At this,the court noted that the Commission may take longer to prepare a comprehensive report but issues relating to de-criminalisation of politics and disqualification for filing false affidavits deserved instant consideration. It will hear views of the Commission on these two issues on March 10.