New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday turned down a plea seeking that its order on disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs be effective even in case of lawmakers who were held guilty of serious offences before the judgement.
The NGO, Lok Prahri, had filed two separate applications seeking modification in the July 10 order of apex court which had said that disqualification shall not affect sitting members of Parliament or state legislatures who were convicted before the pronouncement of the order.
Its second plea seeking a direction to authorities to declare vacant the parliamentary seats of RJD chief Lalu Prasad and Congress leader Rasheed Masood for being held guilty in criminal cases was also refused by the apex court which said notifications have already been issued for their disqualification from the respective houses.
"If the vacancies in both the houses have not been notified, the cause of action for petitioner would be a fresh one," a bench comprising justices A K Patnaik and A K Sikri said. While Prasad was convicted on September 30 in a fodder scam case, Masood was held guilty in a medical scam case and both of them are on bail.
The bench, which dismissed the plea for modification of July 10 order to make it effective even in case of sitting members of Parliament who were convicted before the aforesaid judgement, said the question was dealt by it in the same verdict.
"This court has considered and given reasons as why the July 10 judgement would be applicable to the sitting member of Parliament to incur disqualification under section 8(1), (2) and (3) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) from the date of judgement," the bench said. The NGO had said 27 MPs and MLAs who have been convicted have continue to be member of legislative bodies. "Exemption to already convicted sitting members is not in accordance with Articles of the Constitution which provide that the disqualification shall be effective instantly," the petition had said, adding, "It is also not in consonance with the intention of the framers of the Constitution."
In view of disqualification of Congress MP Rasheed Masood from Rajya Sabha and Lalu Prasad from Lok Sabha, the petitioner also sought that the vacancies be notified by the respective houses.
The Supreme Court had on July 10 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 only question is about the vires of section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction," the apex court had said.
The court, however, had said that its decision will not apply to convicted MPs and MLAs who have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.
Under Section 8(3) of the RPA, a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified for that and a further six years after release....