Law and Justice
Highlights of the Bill
- The Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 that deferred the disqualification of a convicted legislator by three months. The Bill replaces that provision of the Act.
- The Bill provides a 90 day period to a convicted legislator to appeal and obtain a stay on his conviction or sentence.
- If a stay on the conviction or sentence is obtained within the 90 day period, the disqualification will not take effect.
- Until the appeal is decided by the court, the legislator may participate in proceedings of Parliament or state legislatures, but he is not entitled to vote or draw a salary and allowances.
Key Issues and Analysis
- Section 8(4) of the Act was struck down by the Supreme Court in 2013 for violating the Constitution as (i) it provided different grounds for disqualification of legislators and candidates, and (ii) deferred the date on which the disqualification of sitting legislators would take effect. The Bill could also be challenged on the same grounds.
- In a 2005 judgment, the Supreme Court permitted differential treatment of legislators. It had said that this was in order to protect the House, especially when the government had a slim majority. The Bill takes away a convicted legislator’s right to vote, including in a no confidence motion. Consequently, the justification for differential treatment may not apply.
- The 2013 Supreme Court judgment states that a stay on conviction must be obtained in order to defer the disqualification of a convicted legislator. However, the Bill states that a stay on sentence is sufficient to do so.
- The Bill lays down the conditions that would operate upon obtaining a stay on conviction or sentence. It is unclear whether such conditions may be imposed by Parliament through a legislation, or if this is the exclusive prerogative of the courts.