This Article is From Aug 13, 2013

Centre seeks review of Supreme Court's verdicts on disqualifying lawmakers

New Delhi: The Centre moved the Supreme Court on Monday seeking a relook on its two landmark judgements disqualifying MPs and MLAs on being convicted and debarring arrested persons from contesting polls.

The Centre contended that protecting convicted MPs and MLAs from disqualification during pendency of appeal is necessary "to protect the House and to ensure that governance is not adversely impacted".

The Supreme Court had on July 10 held that an MP or MLA convicted of any criminal offence attracting a punishment of two years and above will be disqualified immediately and a person, who is in jail or in police custody, cannot contest election to legislative bodies.

It had declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Section 8(4) of Representation of the People Act that says a convicted legislator can continue in office if he or she appeals in a higher court within three months of the conviction. The verdicts have been widely opposed by politicians cutting across party lines.

The government justified the protective provision for elected member on the ground that the rate of acquittal in India judicial system is high and if the elected member is once disqualified on being convicted then his membership of the House cannot be restored after his acquittal.

"This court ought to have appreciated that the impact of the decision in the reality of the Indian judicial system is that the rate of acquittal in the appellate court is high and keeping in view the time taken to dispose of the criminal appeals, Section 8(4) was enacted to protect the House and ensure that governance is not adversely impacted," it said.

"In the absence of Section 8(4) of the Act, a member would be remediless since the disqualification would not be wiped out from the date of conviction, even when the conviction is reversed and he would not be entitled to restoration of his membership and disqualification of the House," the petition said.