MPs and MLAs who face immediate disqualification on their conviction in a criminal case with a jail term of two years or more may breathe easy with the government clearing an Ordinance to protect them and undo a two-month-old Supreme Court verdict. Government has 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 10th July this year once the President gives his assent.
Features of the Representation of people Act 1951 related to disqualification:
The Representation of The People Act, 1951 provide for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
Under the act MP/MLAs shall be disqualified, where the convicted person is sentenced to—
(i) only fine, for a period of six years from the date of such conviction;
(ii) imprisonment, from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release.
A disqualification under either subsection shall not, in the case of a person who on the date of the conviction is a member of Parliament or the Legislature of a State, take effect until three months have elapsed from that date or, if within that period an appeal or application for revision is brought in respect of the conviction or the sentence, until that appeal or application is disposed of by the court.
Supreme Court ruling related to the Act
The Supreme Court had on July 10 ruled that an MP, an MLA or an MLC would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more. Government moved the Supreme Court for a review earlier this month which was rejected.
New provisions in the ordinance are:
The Ordinance 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".
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 R P Act.