Neena Vyas

“Members of Parliament serving sentences in jail should not vote”

NEW DELHI: With the start of the count down to the trust vote on Friday, the Bharatiya Janata Party has come up with a suggestion that some MPs, who are serving sentences in jail should not vote.

The difference between those in Parliament likely to vote for the government and those against it is admittedly narrow, and in this context the BJP spokesperson Ravi Shankar Prasad said that he expected the government not to take the support of MPs serving jail sentences.

Mr. Prasad was clear that under the rules they could vote provided the court gave them permission to attend Parliament for a day or two to cast their crucial vote in the trust move. However, he suggested it was “immoral” for the Congress to take the support of such MPs.

He also argued – in response to questions – that there was no moral dilemma involved in his party MP Navjot Singh Sidhu – who has also been convicted for manslaughter – casting his vote as his conviction had been stayed by the Supreme Court pending his appeal.

He was asked whether the BJP was trying to bring pressure to change the rules of the game when the date for the game had been announced. To this he admitted that while legally speaking there was no bar to MPs in jail being granted permission to attend the Lok Sabha session for a crucial vote, this would not be proper.

To a question whether he was not directly attacking an issue related to Parliamentary privilege, Mr. Prasad was silent. Neither did he respond to a question whether the issue he was raising had no legal backing in either the Lok Sabha rules of procedure, laid down in black and white, or the Representation of the People Act that deals with disqualification.