May hear plea after ordinance on convicted lawmaker passed: SC

Last Updated 27 September 2013, 10:35 IST

The Supreme Court today made it clear that it may hear the plea against the proposed ordinance to protect convicted lawmakers from disqualification only after the law gets the nod from the President.

In response to the submisison that the Presidential nod to the ordinance was merely a formality, a bench of justices A K Patnaik and J S Kehar said, "Suppose the ordinance is passed, we can still pass the stay order. You mention the matter on Monday, if it is cleared."

The court said that it cannot hear the plea when the ordinance in question was in the process of being promulgated.

During the brief hearing, advocate M L Sharma said the ordinance was being fastracked in view of impending verdict in a fodder scam case involving RJD chief Lalu prasad as one of the accused.

"Moreover, the President is duty bound to clear the ordinance," he said.

Earlier, the lawyer had filed the PIL for quashing the ordinance proceedings by the Union Cabinet for amending the law to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from facing immediate disqualification.

There was "no extra-ordinary emergency" circumstance to issue ordinance for amending Representation of the People Act and the ordinance process be declared "illegal and unconstitutional", it said.

A fraud was committed by political leaders on the Constitution with "vested interest to demolish basic structure and fundamental right of the Constitution, the plea said.

"The respondent (Principal Secretary, PMO and Union of India) has misused Article 123 and ordinance process which is not permitted under Constitution, therefore, impugned adopted ordinance process must be declared illegal and unconstitutional," the PIL said.

The PIL said, "On September 24, 2013 present ministry (Law), having ulterior vested interest and to nullify Supreme Court judgment dated July 10, 2013 called cabinet meeting and cleared an ordinance upon the Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation Bill), 2013 to reverse the Supreme Court judgment that calls for immediate disqualification of lawmakers convicted of a criminal offence punishable with two years or more in jail.

"The ordinance allows convicted MPs/MLAs to continue if their appeal is admitted by a higher court within 90 days and the conviction stayed. However, they (MP/MLAs) will not vote or draw salaries till the case is decided."

The apex 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. The government had moved the apex court for a review earlier this month which was rejected.

The Union Cabinet had recently approved the ordinance to protect convicted MPs and MLAs from facing immediate disqualification, which in effect negates an order of the Supreme Court.

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

(Published 27 September 2013, 10:35 IST)

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