Ordinance to prevent disqualification of lawmakers likely
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Last Updated: Sunday, September 22, 2013, 22:44
New Delhi: With the Winter Session of Parliament three months away, government is weighing the option of bringing an ordinance to prevent immediate disqualification of lawmakers convicted in criminal cases with a jail term of two years or more following a Supreme Court judgement.

Sources said the conviction of Congress MP Rashid Masood in a case of corruption and other offences has made the government think the ordinance option.

No final decision has, however, been taken so far in this regard, they said.

Once the quantum of punishment is pronounced by a CBI court next month, Masood faces the prospects of losing his membership of Rajya Sabha as the July 10 order of the apex court is now the law of the land.

He could be the first MP to lose seat after the SC verdict. There is a feeling that till Parliament does not pass the Representation of the People (2nd Amendment) Bill, 2013 - pending in Rajya Sabha - to negate the SC verdict, lawmakers (MPs, MLAs and MLCs) would continue to lose membership.

But at the same time, there is a feeling that Opposition may come down heavily on the government in the Winter Session if an ordinance is brought as a bill is pending in Parliament. Technically, government is free to bring an ordinance as both Houses have been prorogued.

While government's stand for a bill was approved by political parties in a meeting, differences cropped up on the wordings when it was introduced in the Rajya Sabha.

Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj has already said that there were divergent views on the bill. BJP had wanted the bill to be referred to a Standing Committee of Parliament.

Government had readied an ordinance to keep political parties out of the ambit of Right to Information Act. But it decided against brining the ordinance and instead brought a bill which is now pending with a Parliamentary Standing Committee.

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".

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.


First Published: Sunday, September 22, 2013, 22:44

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