Centre seeks review of ruling on disqualification of tainted MPs, MLAs

The Union government on Monday moved the Supreme Court seeking a review of the judgment, which held that charge sheeted MPs and MLAs, on conviction of the offences for which they are charged, will be immediately disqualified from holding membership of the House without being given three months time for appeal.

On July 10, a Bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya struck down as unconstitutional Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People (RP) Act that gives convicted lawmakers three months for filing appeal to the higher court and to get a stay of the conviction and the sentence.

The Centre said the Bench had overlooked the Constitution Bench judgment in K. Prabhakaran Vs P. Jayarajan etc, which upheld the applicability and operation of Section 8 (4). “The Constitution Bench has held that a by-election may have to be held [in the event of disqualification of MP/MLA concerned] which may prove to be futile and the fact that the government may be surviving on a razor edge thin majority and disqualification would have a deleterious effect on the functioning of the government. This is a sufficient reason for Parliament to classify the sitting members of a House into a separate category.”

The Division Bench, the Centre said, did not appreciate the ratio in the Prabhakaran judgment inasmuch as it held that once the House had come into existence and if a member was convicted and sentenced, such a situation should be dealt with on a different footing. “The stress is not merely on the right of an individual to contest an election or to continue as a member of a House, but the very existence and continuity of a House democratically constituted.”

The Centre said the purpose of carving out an exception in Section 8 (4) was not to confer an advantage on sitting MPs or MLAs but to protect the House/Legislature.

The Centre sought an oral hearing (instead of being decided by the judges in the chambers) as the issues raised were of paramount national interest having constitutional ramifications.

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