The Union Cabinet on Thursday, negating two Supreme Court verdicts, agreed to proposals that will allow those in jail to contest elections, and convicted MPs and MLAs to retain their membership during the pendency of their appeals even as they will be barred from voting or drawing a salary.
Interestingly, the apex court’s rulings had brought together all political parties on one platform: they are all in agreement with the government.
The two proposals were approved in the form of amendments to the Representation of the People Act; separate Bills will be tabled in Parliament next week, sources said.
According to one amendment, an MP, MLA or MLC cannot be disqualified after conviction if he or she files an appeal within 90 days from the date of conviction and such a conviction is stayed by the court.
A proviso added to sub-section (4) of section 8 of the RP Act makes it clear that the convicted member shall continue to take part in proceedings of Parliament or State legislature but he or she shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw a salary and allowances till the appeal or revision is finally decided by the court, according to the draft bill.
Another amendment cleared by the Cabinet adds a proviso to sub-section (2) of section 62 of the RP Act to state that a person cannot cease to be a voter while in detention as his or her right is only temporarily suspended. It further states that as the name of the jailed person continues to be on the electoral rolls, he or she also continues to be an elector and can file his nomination for an election.
The amendments to the RPA shall come into effect from July 10, 2013, the day the Supreme Court gave the two judgments providing for immediate disqualification of convicted lawmakers and barring those in jail from contesting.
Bill to scrap collegium system
Overcoming resistance from the judiciary, the government has approved a Bill to scrap the collegium system of appointing judges to the Supreme Court and High Courts. The Bill entails replacing the collegium system with a Judicial Appointments Commission wherein it will have a say in appointment of judges.