Moving to overturn a Supreme Court ruling, a bill was introduced in Rajya Sabha under which convicted members of Parliament and members of Legislative Assembly cannot be disqualified immediately even though they will be barred from voting in the House and drawing their salary till their appeal is decided.
The Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013, introduced by Law Minister Kapil Sibal also seeks to negate the apex court verdict on immediate disqualification.
The bill to amend the Representation of the People Act makes it clear that an MP or MLA cannot be disqualified after conviction if his or her appeal is pending before a court and sentence is stayed.
Opposing the introduction of the bill, Rangasayee Ramakrishna (Bharatiya Janata Party) said this was against the Supreme Court ruling and will not be sustainable. Sibal said, "We have reframed section 84 and the nature of the proviso is entirely different to what the Supreme Court had objected."
The bill says, "...A disqualification under any of the said sub-sections 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, if an appeal or application for revision is filed in respect of the conviction and sentence within a period of 90 days from the date of conviction and such conviction or sentence is stayed by the court."
In the bill, a proviso has been added to sub-section (4) of section 8 of the RP Act which makes it clear that convicted member shall continue to take part in proceedings of Parliament or Legislature of a state but he or she shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances till the appeal or revision is finally decided by the court.
Once passed, the amendment to the RPA shall come into effect from July 10, 2013, the day the Supreme Court gave the landmark judgement.
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 members of Legislative Council would stand disqualified on the date of conviction. The government has already filed a review petition on the verdict.
Earlier this week, the Rajya Sabha had approved a similar proposal on lawmakers to negate another SC order. The earlier bill seeks to maintain the right of those in jail to contest polls.
The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 seeks to add a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as his or her right is only temporarily suspended.
One of the amendments states that as the name of the jailed person continues to be on the electoral rolls, he or she also continues to be an elector and can file nomination for an election.
"Provided further that by reason of the prohibition to vote under this sub-section, a person whose name has been entered in the electoral roll shall not cease to be an elector," the proviso reads.
The amendments seek to negate the July 10 order of the Supreme Court which held that those in jail cannot vote as per RP Act and hence cannot qualify for contesting elections to Parliament or state legislatures.