Senior CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury today accused the government of indulging in "mischief" and carrying out "selective propaganda" on the issue of controversial ordinance on disqualification of convicted lawmakers. "While we don't know who is behind this, it shows how the government is selectively leaking" information on the August 13 (all-party) meeting in which, the government claims that all parties supported the bill, Yechury told PTI.
"This is mischief. Selective propaganda is being done by the government attributing some opinions to me," he said when asked about the minutes of the meeting which have been circulated to the media.
He also said that no minutes of the meeting have been circulated to the MPs who had participated in it. "As far as the CPI(M) is concerned, our position on the issue has been in the public domain."
Meanwhile, CPI(M) General Secretary Prakash Karat said a convicted legislator "has to have safeguards in the sense that appeals against lower court decisions are often overturned by the higher courts", adding that the matter should have been discussed in Parliament. There was a feeling among the people that the safeguard clause could be "used to protect convicted legislator" and this should also be taken into account. "In one sense, many parties will have to have a relook at this issue." "The (parliamentary) Standing Committee will look into it. I am sure parties will then express their views and we will also discuss this matter now. I think our party will also veer towards saying that such a law or bill is not required," Karat said.
At its Central Committee meeting last month, the CPI(M) had said the Supreme Court order meant instant disqualification of convicted legislators. "The principle that a legislator who is convicted for offences listed in the Representation of People Act, should be disqualified, is valid. However, there should be a safeguard in case an appeal to the higher court results in an acquittal. "Hence, there should be a provision for suspension of the member from the House, pending an appeal that should be disposed off within a specified time limit," it had opined.
The Central Committee had also termed as "more harmful" the apex court judgement that no person in police custody or in jail even for a day would be allowed to contest elections, even if the said person has not been convicted.
"This can be misused on a large scale by ruling parties and governments to put political opponents in jail on flimsy charges to prevent them from contesting elections. Our Party wants this judgement overturned either through judicial or legislative intervention," the CPI(M)'s decision-making body had said.
Later in a statement, the CPI(M) opposed the ordinance on convicted sitting MPs and state legislators and demanded that the matter of disqualification of such elected members should be discussed in Parliament and only then should appropriate steps be taken.