BJP, Left and Congress clash over Ordinance on lawmakers

Last Updated 25 September 2013, 11:35 IST

Opposition parties--BJP and Left-- and Congress today clashed over the Ordinance that protects convicted MPs and MLAs from facing immediate disqualification with the saffron party opposing government's decision as an attempt to make "cheats, frauds, murderers" as lawmakers.

As the Ordinance on lawmakers cleared by the Union Cabinet yesterday came under attack, Congress leader and I&B minister Manish Tewari took on BJP leader Sushma Swaraj, who had requested the President not to sign it, saying the constitutionality of legal enactments could be decided by courts and not by the opposition party.

The Left parties while opposing the decision said the UPA government was "repeatedly using the Ordinance route which is undemocratic."

"BJP is shocked at this Ordinance. We would like to know whose great idea it is--is it Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or Rahul Gandhi or is it UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi," party general secretary Rajiv Pratap Rudy told PTI.

"Who was eager to promulgate an Ordinance to make frauds, cheats, rapists and murderers as our MPs and MLAs?."

The Ordinance seeks to negate the order of the Supreme Court on the issue and BJP has opposed this move.

Rudy hailed the Supreme Court verdict, saying the apex court had in a "historic judgement" said that a rapist, a murderer, an extortionist, convicts of bribery and cheating cease to be MPs or MLAs if they are declared guilty by a court of law and imprisoned for more than two years.

Rudy's remarks came a day after Leader of Opposition in Lok Sabha Sushma Swaraj termed the Ordinance as unconstitutional and requested the President not to give his assent to it.

"We are opposed to it. We request the President not to sign it. President is not obliged to sign an Ordinance that is unconstitutional," Swaraj had said on Twitter.

Tiwari in a response via a Twitter post addressed to Swaraj said "the constitutionality or otherwise of legal enactments are tested in constitutional courts and not in the BJP's moat."

"Unsolicited advice is neither appreciated nor taken seriously. These are the first principles of the legal profession. Advice of Leader of Opposition amusing, surprising," he said.

The Ordinance to undo the apex court's verdict was brought after the government failed to get a Bill to this effect passed in Parliament during the Monsoon Session.

The CPI-M politburo said the matter of disqualification of elected members who are convicted "should have been discussed in Parliament and appropriate steps taken."

The CPI Central Secretariat too opposed the decision, saying the government should not be in a hurry to issue an Ordinance to protect convicted legislators from immediate disqualification as per the judgement of the Supreme Court.

(Published 25 September 2013, 06:52 IST)

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