Cabinet paves way for convicted MLAs, MPs to contest elections

The government on Tuesday cleared an ordinance paving way for convicted MPs and MLAs to contest elections.

Zee Media Bureau

New Delhi: The government on Tuesday cleared an ordinance paving way for convicted MPs and MLAs to contest elections.

Government decided to bring the ordinance after failing to get a Bill to this effect passed in Parliament during the recent Monsoon Session.

The ordinance will come into effect from July 10 this year once the President gives his assent.

The decision to take the Ordinance route, which was denigrated by the Aam Admi Party, came against the backdrop of a Congress MP Rashid Masood facing the prospect of disqualification as he was recently convicted in a case of corruption and other offences.

Former Rail Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad too faces the prospect of losing his Lok Sabha membership if found guilty in a fodder scam case to be decided on September 30.

The Ordinance, which is in lines with the Bill, states that a convicted MP or MLA will not be disqualified if an appeal is filed within 90 days and the court stays the conviction and the sentence.

But, it makes it clear "that the MP/MLA shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances" by adding a proviso to sub section (4) of section 8 of the RP Act.

"We have only done what the SC had said. In fact we have gone a step further...The measure will act as an impediment for those convicted," Law Minister Kapil Sibal said here after the Ordinance was approved by the Union Cabinet.

If a lawmaker fails to get a stay on the sentence or the conviction within 90 days, he or she will stand disqualified.

Convicted persons cannot contest polls as per the RP Act.

The Cabinet note on the Ordinance said since the bill is pending in Parliament and the Monsoon session was adjourned sine die, the government is taking the ordinance route.

Attacking the government for the ordinance, AAP said it exposes the intentions of the political class which has "stooped" to a new low to protect the corrupt.

To negate the Supreme Court order, the government moved
to amend the law and brought the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Rajya Sabha during the last session. However, the bill could not be passed.

President Pranab Mukherjee has given his assent to another bill which maintains the right of those in jail to contest polls, thus overruling a Supreme Court order.

The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Act, 2013 negates another July 10 order of the apex court which held that those in jail cannot vote according to RP Act and hence cannot qualify for contesting elections to Parliament or state legislatures.
In its July 10 verdict, the Supreme Court had 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.

The apex court also made it clear that MPs, MLAs and MLCs would stand disqualified on the date of conviction.

Government`s review plea in the case has been rejected by the apex court.

With PTI inputs