The Union Cabinet on Tuesday cleared an ordinance that reversed the Supreme Court’s earlier order on convicted MPs and MLAs.
The proposed ordinance aims to skirt around the top court's order and allow lawmakers to attend Parliament even after they are convicted, without a salary or voting rights. But they cannot contest elections again, unless they are acquitted by a higher court.
The ordinance is a reversal of the Supreme Court judgement that had not only disqualified lawmakers convicted of offences with two years or more in jail, but also barred from contesting elections.
The ordinance will allow convicted legislators to continue in office, if the appeal against the conviction is admitted by a higher court within 90 days.
In a landmark verdict delivered on July 10, the apex court ruled that MPs or MLAs shall stand disqualified from holding the membership of the house from the date of conviction.
“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,” said an apex court bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya.
The apex court, however, said that its decision will not apply to MPs, MLAs or other lawmakers who have been convicted and have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.
According to the provision of Representation of the People Act, a lawmaker cannot be disqualified in the event of his conviction in a criminal case if he or she files an appeal in the higher court.