Zee Media Bureau/Ajith Vijay Kumar
New Delhi: Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav and JD(U) MP Jagdish Sharma, both convicted in the Bihar fodder scam, were formally disqualified from the Lok Sabha on Tuesday.
Their disqualification comes a day after Congress leader Rashid Masood became the first MP to to formally lose his Parliament seat as a result of a July 10 Supreme Court on convicted lawmakers. Masood, as health minister in the VP Singh government between 1990 and 1991, had nominated undeserving candidates to MBBS seats in colleges across the country that had been allotted to Tripura from a central pool.
The RJD chief was sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for five years by the CBI court after he was convicted in the fodder scam case. He later appealed against the verdict through his counsel and also sought bail.
Besides Yadav and Sharma, the CBI court had on September 30 convicted another former Bihar chief minister Jagannath Mishra and 42 others for fraudulently drawing Rs 37.7 crore from Chaibasa treasury during the RJD regime in the 1990s.
Lalu Yadav is currently lodged in the Birsa Munda prison in Ranchi.
In a landmark verdict, the Supreme Court on July 10 had struck down sub-section 4 of Section 8 of Representation of the People Act, under which incumbent MPs, MLAs and MLCs can avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court. The appeal has to be made within three months of the conviction.
Seeking to negate the SC verdict, government had introduced a Bill in Parliament in the Monsoon session. But following differences with the opposition, the Bill could not be passed.
The Union Cabinet had then cleared an Ordinance on the lines of the Bill on September 24 but had to withdraw it after an unexpected public outburst by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi against the ordinance, even though his party had framed it as leader of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.
Clearing the air about the procedure to be followed following conviction of an MP, Attorney General G E Vahanvati has recently told the Lok Sabha Secretariat that notification declaring the seats vacant should be issued immediately.
Giving his opinion for the second time in two weeks on the same subject, Vahanvati has made it clear that an MP stands disqualified the day he or she is convicted by a court and the notification announcing vacancy in seat should be done immediately.
He has also warned that any delay in issuing notification could mean non-compliance of a Supreme Court order.
The country`s top law officer has made it clear that the notification has to be issued by the House to which the MP belongs.
With agency inputs