Convicted lawmakers get cabinet support
The ordinance will allow convicted legislators to continue in office, if the appeal against the conviction is admitted by a higher court within 90 days. The ordinance says that if a lawmaker appeals his conviction or the sentence is stayed by a higher court, he can attend Parliament/ state Assemblies but cannot draw salaries or vote.
The Supreme Court on 10 July had ruled that an MP or an MLA would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more. To negate the Supreme Court order, the government moved to amend the law and brought the Representation of the People (second amendment) Bill, 2013 in Rajya Sabha during the last session. However, the bill could not be passed in the monsoon session.
The government’s decision to take the ordinance route came against the backdrop of Congress MP Rashid Masood facing the prospect of disqualification as he was recently convicted in a case of corruption and other offences. Once the quantum of punishment is pronounced by a CBI court next month, Masood faces the prospect of losing his membership of Rajya Sabha as per the apex court order. The fate of RJD chief Lalu Prasad, whose party is supporting the government from outside, is also to be decided in fodder scam case on 30 September.
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the government for bringing such an ordinance and said that the party will oppose such a step. ‘A parliamentary standing committee is looking into this matter and a detailed deliberation in the standing committee is necessary. The mood of the nation is towards accountability and the government has to explain the hurry for bringing this ordinance . The government should wait for the Standing Committee’s recommendation,’ said BJP spokesperson Nirmala Sitharaman.
The Congress, however, rejected the criticism and said this was not an undemocratic move. ‘Bringing an ordinance is not a backdoor method, it has to have the nod of Parliament. It will go before Parliament in the very next session,’ said Congress spokesperson PC Chacko.