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Updated: September 25, 2013 01:30 IST

Ahead of fodder case verdict comes ordinance to protect lawmakers

Smita Gupta
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A view of the Central Hall at the Parliament House in New Delhi. The presidential nod for the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2013, paved the way for negating a Supreme Court order that restricted politicians in lawful custody from taking part in elections. File photo
The Hindu
A view of the Central Hall at the Parliament House in New Delhi. The presidential nod for the Representation of People (Amendment) Bill, 2013, paved the way for negating a Supreme Court order that restricted politicians in lawful custody from taking part in elections. File photo

Till the matter is settled, MP or MLA will not be entitled to vote nor draw a salary and allowances, but may continue to participate in the proceedings of Parliament or Legislature

The Union Cabinet on Tuesday, negating a Supreme Court ruling, cleared an ordinance that will protect convicted MPs and MLAs from immediate disqualification, provided their appeal against the conviction and sentence is admitted by a higher court within 90 days, and both the conviction and the sentence are stayed. Till the matter is settled, the MP or the MLA, the ordinance says, will not be entitled to vote nor draw a salary and allowances, but may continue to participate in the proceedings of Parliament or State Legislatures, as the case may be.

Significantly, this comes six days ahead of a possible conviction of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) chief Lalu Prasad Yadav: the special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court dealing with a case relating to the fraudulent withdrawal of Rs. 37 crores from the Chaibasa treasury in the 1996 fodder scam, that has completed its hearings, has reserved its order for September 30.

However, Union Law Minister Kapil Sibal told The Hindu that the government, while clearing the ordinance, had simultaneously written to the chairperson of the Rajya Sabha — where the bill was introduced — to send it to the Standing Committee of Parliament. Mr. Sibal said that if the opposition introduced any changes in the bill in the Standing Committee, the Union cabinet would look at those and incorporate them in the bill that he says will come before the winter session of Parliament.

This is because the ordinance also comes just over a fortnight after the BJP changed its position on The Representation of the People (Second Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 — on which this ordinance is based — in the recent monsoon session of Parliament. The BJP had initially agreed to help the government pass this bill. But the principal opposition party later had a change of heart, Congress sources allege, when it realised this might help Mr Lalu Prasad Yadav. There is a strong possibility that Mr. Yadav’s RJD and the Congress may tie up for next year’s general elections.

However, the BJP did cooperate with the UPA government to pass The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013 which deals with those in lawful custody but not convicted. The central argument propounded in favour of this bill was that in politics, false cases are often filed against rivals, and, therefore, mere arrest cannot be sufficient cause for making a legislator resign, or prevent him — or her — from contesting the elections.

Indeed, it was one of the two bills that were drafted in the wake of the Supreme Court judgment of July 10 that pronounced that sitting legislators either jailed on charges, or after conviction, would have to resign their seats forthwith.

The bill relating to those jailed on charges was cleared by Parliament; the one relating to those convicted has now been converted into an ordinance.

However, while the ordinance will help convicted MLAs and MPs retain their seats, it cannot help them to contest elections again: for that they would have to go to court once more to seek a stay again on the sentence and conviction, as the BJP MP from Amritsar, Navjot Singh Sidhu, did after he was convicted of murder in 2006. He resigned his seat, but the following year in 2007, he went to the Supreme Court, got a stay on his conviction and sentence and fought a by-election. In the hypothetical case of Mr. Lalu Prasad Yadav getting convicted on September 30, he would have to first seek a stay on his conviction and sentence to retain his seat — if, thereafter, he wishes to contest in 2014, he would have to go back to court again to seek another stay. The law on that is clear: anyone convicted cannot contest an election, unless that person goes to a higher court and gets his sentence and conviction stayed.

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By seeing the audacity of these politicians to come up with an ordinance
like this, it appears that the world's largest democracy is heading

from:  Nikhil
Posted on: Sep 26, 2013 at 05:04 IST

While economic institutions are critical for determining whether a
country is poor or prosperous, it is politics and political
institutions that determine what economic institutions a country has,
says Dr.Acemoglu in the popular book Why Nations Fail. One has to
realize that unless we fix the political institutions of this country
the economic growth will ultimately suffer. Whereas, in the political
game theory, the profit is maximized when they collectively hold out
and support each other against any attempt by the good institutions of
the state, this would be a retrograde step leading to a vicious cycle
that will slow the economy of the country and threaten its security.
The political instutions of the country need cleansing if we need to
see the 10%+ GDP growth, the Parliament and Vidhana Sabhas have to be
freed from those corrupt and convicted of breaking the law. Parties
which do not practice internal democracy from should be barred
contesting elections.

from:  Shivaram Pai
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 22:49 IST

at this rate it is clear that the country is going to the dogs.the
political class seems to be united in standing up against any
impediment in their path to power and glory , be it this or when it
comes to being transparent about their source of funds.

maybe the lokpal bill is not a panacea, but it would be atleast a
starting point where the politicians will be held accountable. their
hegemony needs to be seriously challenged.

it is time that the political class understood the sentiments of the
common man. how long can we be mute spectators to their drama ?

from:  Jishna
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 10:51 IST

Now BJP will not oppose it because they also want to get benefit of
it. They will show there double standard and government for it. Well
said by APP that both BJP and Congress are the head and tell of same
coin and it seems that there is no opposition part when it comes to do
in fever of country like Lockpal bill then they behave like opposition
but when it comes to do something in there self interest they become
ally of government. Where is so called Mr. Narendra Modi? What is his
view as prime ministerial candidate of BJP? Is he has same view as
other BJP guy? I think Supreme
Court should reject this ordinance as it is neither helpful for Indian
democracy nor Indian people. And BJP stop playing double game with

Shame on all the political party except AAP for supporting this
shameful ordinance. The youth of this country never going to forgive
you for this and one day will come

from:  Ashish Patel
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 09:57 IST

In the recent past ,this was the only smallest measure taken by the
SC to decriminalize the politics .The central government has now
negated the SC's order by promulgating an ordinance by back door .It
is very apparent that Cong government is bent upon saving his natural
ally RJD supremo at any cost .Only a fortnight back this motion failed
in Rajayasabha in the face of stiff opposition by BJP. Even some media
like Hindu which is very particular in not giving any credit to
BJP,said that this motion did not have the blessings of its leaders
like SONIA and RAGHUL etc who wanted to give a very clean image to
congress . Then how come this ordinance has come now ? Is its
perception on clean image changed by overnight ? The BJP and media
should come out in a big way to protest this ordinance and force the
government to take it back .Or else their concern for the nation will
also be a big question mark.

from:  Rajagopalan
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 02:25 IST

yes we need this if not, there wont be any one to contest in next elections. I am also sure that they will win and rule this country. We need better system and better rulers.

from:  ravi
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 02:19 IST

It has become a 'great enterprise' in India in recent times that
whenever an SC order is unpalatable to the government, it starts
amendment order first through an executive ordinance followed by
legislature (Parliament) approval (which is a mere formality) supposed
to be in 'public interest'. Such an overturning by ruling govt.of well
pondered subject material by the highest judiciary is most
unfortunate. Once in a way fine but for every decision involved such
an approach reflects the intolerance, inept thinking by govt.
administrators. Parliamentarians are under misconception that they are
ultimate once they got public vote and elected, none can challenge
them for five years. This is the result of lack of comprehension of
democracy. In true democracy,People are Supreme and their collective
wisdom is ultimate, the earlier we realize, the better.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 01:46 IST

Oh God. Where are we heading? The politicians are not allowing the judiciary system to
do their job and bring order in the country. The corruption is the main challenge India
is facing since independence and present day SC ruling should be adhered....

Here is the chance for the people who should teach lesson to these politicians and keep
the SC orders in their mind before electing the person in the upcoming elections.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 01:05 IST

Constitution mention that a Gov can issue an ordinance if it is very urgent to do so and it can not wait for the coming parliament session. Can this Government explain why it thinks that is so urgent protect tainted ministers?

from:  Santosh
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 00:54 IST

Such a shame. It is really sad to see how politicians subvert the meaning of "democracy".

I do not see a bright future for Indian generations ahead.

- vom Frankfurt, Germany.

from:  Pavan Mankala
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 00:24 IST

The blackest day in the history of Indian democracy, most probably.
These guys have become so shameless and without fear that they are
doing their misdeeds without any kind of cover.But then this is not the only evidence of the world's
largest democracy going down the drain.A country where 70 odd
witnesses are produced in favour of the Delhi gangrape accused, and
one of the offenders gets off with juvie, just on the pretext of being
a minor, a country where Jaganmohan Reddy and Asaram Bapu
find such crazy followings that they come out of lockups like heroes,
democracy is the most abused definition.The Govt is shamelessly using
public funds for its own publicity and we are silent.Is there no one
who cares?This is the biggest mockery of a democracy.Laws here are a

from:  Rajarshi
Posted on: Sep 25, 2013 at 00:05 IST

This is so much unconstitutional and unethical. Congress can become so corrupt and immoral to save its members, its unimaginable. 2014 will bring end to Congress.

from:  Amol Agarwal
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 23:33 IST

The government is taking steps to make people know that their
politicians are corrupt,convicted and yet the constitution will
provide them all protection and the mass is so foolish to get these
politicians elected.

from:  Ram
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 23:15 IST

Shocked at what Congress will stoop to.

from:  Rita MIshra
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 23:00 IST

I was thinking, I should vote for Congress this time.. but now I have
changed my mind. If there is AAP candidate, vote for him/her. Else vote
and independent

from:  Sams
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 22:55 IST

It is the fight of the politicians for self preservation.

Acts such as these will result in people losing faith in democracy and
democratically elected representatives.

These political parties are supposed to be the voice of people. What
options will remain to people if their "will" is not reflected in laws
of the land...

Sad ..sad day for indian democracy..

from:  Prashanth
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 22:49 IST

It is a sad day for Indian democracy.How father of nation Mahatma Gandhi
would react to this ordinance to be signed by the President of India.Hope Mr.Pranabkumar Mukarjee will not sign this

from:  Palengri
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 22:47 IST

Congress should be ashamed for bringing up this ordinance.

from:  Dinesh
Posted on: Sep 24, 2013 at 22:43 IST
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