Somnath hails withdrawal of ordinance on tainted lawmakers
Kolkata: Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee Wednesday welcomed the UPA government`s decision to withdraw the ordinance on convicted lawmakers, saying "people with criminal records should not come to politics and hold important positions".
Chatterjee, a noted lawyer, however, said, "If through judicial determination somebody is held guilty, he should be given an opportunity of preferring an appeal to obtain a stay".
"I also thank the media (in building up public opinion against the measure) and the Supreme Court views for creating such a situation," Chatterjee said.
The ordinance to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from facing immediate disqualification which was earlier passed by the Union Cabinet, in effect negating an order of the Supreme Court, was today withdrawn by the government along with a related bill.
"If a sitting MP or MLA, once convicted by a magistrate and is disqualified automatically and loses his seat, then I cannot agree to it.
One should be given the chance to file an appeal. Why is there the system of appellate courts then?" he asked, pointing out that judgements of a lower court are liable to be changed by a higher court.
"Civilised jurisprudence connotes giving proper opportunity to a citizen of India," he said.
On the BJP claim that the Union Cabinet succumbed to dynastic pressure in withdrawing the ordinance, Chatterjee, a former veteran parliamentarian who had earlier praised the Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi for taking a principled stand on the issue, said, "BJP is submitting to control of RSS. Person like Advani is thrown to the winds. He has contributed to what is BJP today."
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