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Govt slams opposition for changing stand on bill on SC order

The government accused the opposition of changing its stand which led to stalling of the passage of a key bill aimed at overturning a Supreme Court order on immediate disqualification of convicted lawmakers.

New Delhi: The government on Thursday accused the opposition, particularly BJP, of changing its stand which led to stalling of the passage of a key bill aimed at overturning a Supreme Court order on immediate disqualification of convicted lawmakers.

Highly-placed sources in the government also said the SC order that MPs, MLAs and MLCs who are convicted in a criminal case with a jail term of two years or more will face immediate disqualification, is likely to remain the law of the land for the time being.

They said the government is not yet decided on the future course of action, including bringing an ordinance, to negate the apex court verdict.

Since both Houses of Parliament have been prorogued after the end of the Monsoon Session, an ordinance can technically be brought.

The sources said the government did not press for the passage of the amendment bill as the Opposition changed its stance on its provisions.

A proposal to bring a Constitutional Amendment Bill to negate the July 10 Supreme Court verdict on disqualifying MPs, MLAs and MLCs was junked as the opposition, including BJP, was opposed to it, they said.

The government instead introduced the Representation of the People (Second Amendment) Bill, 2013 in Rajya Sabha to amend Sub Section (4) of Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act.

The amendment bill, which adds a proviso to Sub Section (4) of Section 8 of the RP Act, states that a convicted MP or MLA won`t 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".

Charging BJP with changing its stand, the sources said after the bill was introduced, the party demanded that a Constitutional Amendment to negate the verdict be brought.

The bill is now pending in Rajya Sabha.

Leader of the Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj had recently said since there were divergent views on the bill, BJP insisted that it be referred to the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Law. But the government sources said they were not aware that Rajya Sabha chairman has referred it to the parliamentary panel.

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 has made it clear that MPs, MLAs and MLCs would stand disqualified on the date of conviction.

The government`s review plea in the case has been rejected by the apex court. The sources said there were no plans to move a curative petition in this regard as such a move is "not appropriate".

Referring to the Judicial Appointments Commission Bill, 2013, the sources said the understanding with BJP was that a Constitution Amendment Bill - an enabling measure to set up the proposed Commission - will be passed by Parliament and the main bill - which defines the role and function of JAC will be referred to the Standing Committee.

"But in Rajya Sabha, BJP demanded that both the bills be referred to the Parliamentary panel...The stance was again changed," a senior government functionary said.

The Constitutional Amendment Bill was passed in the Upper House amid a walkout by BJP. It could not be taken up by Lok Sabha as the House was adjourned sine die.


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