Jailed Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad and Janata Dal-United leader Jagdish Sharma have been disqualified as Lok Sabha members following their conviction in the fodder scam.
While Prasad stands disqualified for a total of 11 years -- five years of jail term and six years subsequent to his release -- Sharma stands disqualified for ten years -- four years in jail and six more years after that as per electoral laws. Theirs is the first disqualification from the Lok Sabha after the Supreme Court struck down a provision that protects a convicted lawmaker from disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal in higher courts.
The first disqualification from Parliament came on Monday when 66-year-old Masood, a Congress member of the Rajya Sabha, was held guilty in a case of corruption and other offences in September.
Lok Sabha Secretary General S Bal Shekar has issued the notifications disqualifying Lalu and Sharma. The Election Commission has also been intimated about the disqualification and the subsequent creation of vacancies in the Lok Sabha. Their disqualification came on Monday after Rajya Sabha disqualified Congress MP Rashid Masood earlier after his conviction in a graft case.
Sixty-six-year-old Prasad, convicted in the fodder scam, was sentenced to five years in prison and imposed with a fine of Rs 25 lakh. He was till now an MP from Saran in Bihar. Sharma, 63, too was sentenced to four years imprisonment in the case. He represented Jahanabad in Bihar.
The Rajya Sabha notification said Masood stands disqualified as an MP from September 19, the day he was convicted by the Central Bureau of Investigation court. Citing provisions of the Representation of the People Act, it said he will remain disqualified for the period of his sentence and will continue to remain disqualified for a further period of six years after his release.
Masood's conviction was the first after the Supreme Court struck down a provision in the electoral law that provided immunity to MPs and MLAs from immediate disqualification. In its July 10 judgment, the Supreme Court had struck down sub-section 4 of Section 8 of Representation of the People Act, under which incumbent MPs, MLAs and MLCs can avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court. The appeal has to be made within three months of the conviction.
Seeking to negate the SC verdict, the government had introduced a bill in Parliament in the monsoon session. But following differences with the opposition, the bill could not be passed.
An ordinance on the lines of the bill was later cleared by the Union cabinet on September 24 to protect convicted lawmakers. But reversing its earlier step, the cabinet on October 2 decided to withdraw the ordinance as well as Bill in the wake of public outburst against it by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi. The overturning of the decision came in the wake of Rahul Gandhi's trashing of the ordinance as "nonsense". He had said it should be "torn" and "thrown out".
President Pranab Mukherjee had also questioned the government's decision on the ordinance. Clearing the air about the procedure to be followed following conviction of an MP, Attorney General G E Vahanvati has recently told the Lok Sabha secretariat that notification declaring the seats vacant should be issued immediately.