Chennai: The conviction and sentencing of four years awarded to AIADMK General Secretary J. Jayalalithaa in the disproportionate wealth case immediately disqualifies her from contesting elections for the next 10 years. Legal experts say that as per the Representation of People Act (section 8 (3)), a person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years after their release.
Moreover, the Supreme Court in October 2013 struck down section 8 (4) of the RPA that protects a convicted lawmaker from disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal in higher courts. This verdict is a major setback to Ms Jayalalithaa since she is disqualified from the moment she was convicted and continued to be disqualified for another 10 years (4 plus 6).
Senior advocate and constitutional expert K.M. Vijayan says that not only does the verdict disqualify Ms Jayalalithaa from her chief minister and MLA posts, it also makes her cabinet non-functional with immediate effect (as per Article 163 and 164 of the Constitution). The party will now have to elect another chief minister and subsequently a new set of ministers, he added.
However, activist lawyer M. Radhakrishnan says, “Cabinet will continue. The Chief Minister will be elected by the MLAs. Article 164 (2) of the Constitution says that the council of ministers shall be collective responsible to the legislative Assembly of the state. So the legislative Assembly of the state is in existence.
Therefore, the council of ministers cannot be said to have ceased. Until the new Chief Minister is elected, one of the members of the council of ministers will perform the functions of the Chief Minister, who is now disqualified, as per business rules....