Legal/constitutional experts have questioned the long delay in disqualifying Congress Rajya Sabha member from Uttar Pradesh, Rasheed Masood, and declaring the seat vacant by the Rajya Sabha Secretariat. It is nearly a month since the former Union Minister was convicted in a corruption case.
Similarly, the fate of RJD Lok Sabha member from Chapra, Lalu Prasad, and Janata Dal (United)’s Jagadish Sharma (Jahanabad) is yet to be decided by the Lok Sabha Secretariat though they too have been convicted in corruption cases.
While Masood was convicted on September 19, the two LS members were convicted on September 30.
Informed sources said the Law Ministry is yet to get back to the LS and RS secretariats which had sought clarification on how to go about the disqualification issue vis-à-vis the Supreme Court’s verdict on July 10, 2013, declaring ultra vires Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act.
This Section gave immunity for the legislators from disqualification (in certain cases) if they had appealed against their conviction within 90 days of the trial court’s verdict. Legal experts argue how can the Election Commission fill the vacancy (it has to be filled within six months from the date the seat became vacant) without the disqualification of the three MPs and the declaration of seats vacant by the Parliament secretariat.
“As the proposed ordinance to save the convicted legislators has already been withdrawn, the government should not try to take it as a prestige issue and protect such convicted legislators through the Bill [to give immunity from disqualification] which is pending in Parliament,” the experts said.