The Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats have sought the Law Ministry’s opinion on disqualification of Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad and two others as MPs, following their conviction in corruption cases, what with the Supreme Court declaring ultra vires Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act (RP Act), 1951.
This provision gave lawmakers immunity from disqualification (for certain offences) if they appealed against their conviction/sentence in the higher court within 90 days of the trial court verdict. As this is the first case after the removal of this Section, the Secretariats want to go about it carefully, and strictly follow all legal and constitutional provisions without giving room for any legal wrangle, say informed sources.
The letters have been written separately and the next step will be taken after receiving the Ministry’s opinion.
All three MPs have been convicted under the Prevention of Corruption Act and as per the provisions of the RP Act. Conviction alone is enough for their disqualification.
Once disqualified, the MPs cannot contest polls for six years from the date of their release from jail.
While Lalu Prasad (elected from Chapra in Bihar) and the Janata Dal-United’s Jagadish Sharma (Jahanabad, Bihar) are members of the Lok Sabha and were convicted by a Special CBI court in Ranchi on September 30, the former Union Minister from Congress Rasheed Masood is a member of the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh. He was convicted by a CBI court in Delhi on September 19.
Secretariats can disqualify
But legal sources maintained that unlike other disqualification issues, in these cases, the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha Secretariats can themselves, after going through the court judgment, disqualify the convicted members.