Apex court moved to bar 4 lawmakers from voting on trust motionJuly 21st, 2008 - 9:57 pm ICT by IANS
By Rana Ajit
New Delhi, July 21 (IANS) An Allahabad-based lawyer Monday moved the Supreme Court to bar four lawmakers convicted of murder from voting in parliament Tuesday on the trust motion of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The four lawmakers whom advocate Ashok Pandey wanted the apex court to prevent from voting on the trust motion are Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) parliamentarians Mohammed Sahabuddin and Rajeev Ranjan alias Pappu Yadav, besides Samajwadi Party MP Mitrasen Yadav and Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) MP Suraj Bhan Singh.
In a petition filed in the apex court’s registry Monday evening, advocate Pandey sought the court’s order in this regard contending that their participation in the voting process would negate the original spirit of the constitution which envisaged immediate disqualification of convicted person from membership of Parliament.
In his petition, advocate Pandey also contended that letting the four MPs participate in the ongoing special session of Parliament — and eventually casting their vote in the trust motion — would also violate an apex court ruling that a person, convicted of a crime and sentenced to more then two years of jail term, would be ineligible for becoming a lawmaker and participating in parliament proceedings.
Pandey told the IANS he would Tuesday request the bench of the Chief Justice to accord an urgent hearing to his lawsuit and bar the four convicted lawmakers from voting on the trust motion.
In his petition, advocate Pandey also challenged the legality and constitutionality of the latest electoral laws that protect a lawmaker from disqualification as long as his appeal against his conviction and sentence is pending in a higher court.
The advocate sought the apex court’s order to bar the two RJD and one LJP lawmakers from voting on the trust motion pointing out that they all had been convicted of murder and are currently serving life terms in various jails in Bihar from where they have come to parliament to participate in the voting.
The three MPs have challenged their conviction and sentence before the Patna High Court and are protected from immediate disqualification owing to the latest electoral law - section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 - which protects a lawmaker from immediate disqualification as long as his appeal is pending in a higher court.
Challenging the legality of section 8(4) of the RP Act, 1951, Pandey said that at the time of drafting of the Constitution, its framers had envisaged automatic and immediate disqualification of a person as a lawmaker after his conviction for a criminal offence.
It is clear from the Constituent Assembly debate that an amendment was sought to be introduced to protect lawmakers from disqualification till pendency of the appeal in a higher court, “but that provision was rejected”, said Pandey in his petition.
He contended that what had been discarded by the original framers of the constitution should not have been made a law later by any government to protect lawmakers having criminal antecedents.
In support of his contention, Pandey also cited a 2001 ruling of the apex court which barred AIADMK president J. Jayalalitha from contesting state assembly elections in Tamil Nadu after her conviction in a corruption case entailing a three-year jail term.
The apex court had disallowed her from contesting election despite the fact that her sentence had been suspended by the high court where her appeal was still pending.
Pandey recalled the apex court ruling barring her from contesting the assembly poll saying: “The conviction and the sentence operate against the accused in all their rigours until set aside in appeal and a disqualification attaches to the conviction and sentences as well.”
About Samajwadi Party MP Mitrasen Yadav, Pandey claimed that he was convicted for a murder in 1966 and even his appeals were rejected by the higher courts.
But later he was granted remission of his sentence and was freed by the Uttar Pradesh governor in 1976, said Pandey.
He added that he subsequently fought and won seven Lok Sabha elections between 1976 and 2008 despite the fact that all through he was ineligible to contest since remission of a sentence is not the same as setting aside of a conviction by a higher court.