Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, whose conviction in a defamation case over remarks on the Modi surname was stayed by the Supreme Court, returned to the Lok Sabha. The Lok Sabha Secretariat has notified the restoration of Rahul’s membership.
GS II: Polity and Governance
Dimensions of the Article:
- Legal Provisions for Disqualification of MPs/MLAs
- Operation of Disqualification
- Impact on Disqualification
Legal Provisions for Disqualification of MPs/MLAs:
Disqualification under Articles 102(1) and 191(1):
- Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs) can be disqualified on various grounds, including holding an office of profit, being of unsound mind, insolvency, or lacking valid citizenship.
Disqualification under the Tenth Schedule (Anti-Defection Law):
- The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution deals with disqualification of lawmakers on grounds of defection.
- Lawmakers can be disqualified if they voluntarily give up the membership of their political party, vote contrary to the party’s direction, or join another party after being elected.
Disqualification under The Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951:
- The RPA includes provisions for disqualification of lawmakers in criminal cases and other instances.
- Section 8(1A) includes specific offences like promoting enmity, bribery, and undue influence at elections.
- Section 8(2A) lists offences related to hoarding, adulteration, and conviction under the Dowry Prohibition Act.
- Section 8(3A) disqualifies a convicted person sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years.
- Section 9 deals with disqualification for corruption, disloyalty, and entering into government contracts while being a lawmaker.
Specific Provisions of RPA:
- Section 8: Disqualification for conviction of offences.
- Section 8(1A): Disqualification for specific offences.
- Section 8(2A): Disqualification for certain offences related to hoarding, adulteration, etc.
- Section 8(3A): Disqualification for conviction with imprisonment of at least two years.
- Section 9: Disqualification for corruption, disloyalty, and government contracts.
- Section 9(A): Disqualification for involvement in government contracts.
- Section 10: Disqualification for holding office under a government company.
- Section 10(A): Disqualification for failure to lodge election expense accounts.
- Section 11: Removal or reduction of period of disqualification.
- Section 11(A): Disqualification arising from conviction and corrupt practices.
- Section 11(B): Removal of disqualifications.
Impact and Significance:
- These legal provisions ensure accountability and integrity among lawmakers, preventing those involved in certain criminal activities or acts of defection from holding public office.
- Disqualification serves as a mechanism to maintain the ethical standards and trustworthiness of elected representatives.
Operation of Disqualification:
Reversal of Disqualification:
- Disqualification of a lawmaker can be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favor of the convicted lawmaker.
- In the ‘Lok Prahari v Union of India’ case (2018), the Supreme Court clarified that disqualification will not operate from the date of the stay of conviction by the appellate court.
- The stay must not be merely a suspension of sentence but a stay of conviction itself.
Appeal Against Conviction and Disqualification:
- Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) stated that disqualification takes effect only after three months have passed from the date of conviction.
- During this period, a person can file an appeal against the conviction before a higher court.
- Earlier, the law allowed a pause on disqualification if an appeal against conviction was filed before a higher court.
- However, the Supreme Court, in the ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’ case (2013) and later in ‘Lok Prahari v Union of India’ (2018), declared Section 8(4) unconstitutional.
- This means that filing an appeal alone does not prevent disqualification; the convicted lawmaker must obtain a specific order of stay against the conviction from the appellate court.
Impact on Disqualification:
- Disqualification remains in effect unless a higher court stays the conviction or decides in favor of the appellant.
- The stay of conviction must be a complete stay, not just a suspension of sentence.
- Filing an appeal against conviction is not sufficient to prevent disqualification; a specific stay order from the higher court is required.
- The operation of disqualification ensures that lawmakers convicted of certain offenses do not continue to hold public office while their appeal is pending.
- This upholds the principles of justice and accountability in the legal and political systems.
-Source: Indian Express