Wary of going against popular sentiment of curbing criminalisation of politics, the government appears to have slowed down its efforts to reverse the Supreme Court judgment on immediate disqualification of convicted MPs/MLAs.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed the government’s review petition against its July 10 verdict on the subject. With only two days left in the ongoing monsoon session, chances of the bill to amend election law passing both Houses of Parliament appear bleak.
The Election Commission has already asked all states and union territories to implement the judgment and has sought a report on all such elected representatives. It has asked states to file a regular monthly report on the issue.
Law minister Kapil Sibal had last week introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha to amend the Representation of the People Act to prevent any convicted MP/MLA from being disqualified if an appeal is filed within 90 days and the court stays the conviction and the sentence.
The bill, however, makes it clear “that till the appeal or revision is finally decided by the court, the member shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances.”
The bill sought to provide token relief to convicted MPs/MLAs and indicates a shift from the earlier strident position taken by majority of the parties in the all-party meeting called by the government last month.
The judgment had been severely criticised by different parties and the government had indicated it would amend the constitution to remove the confusion on disqualification of elected representatives.
Article 102 of the constitution lays down the grounds for disqualification of candidates aspiring to be MPs as well as elected members. The government had earlier intended to make the wording of this article clear and simple on what would lead to the disqualification of an MP.
Following extensive discussion with the opposition and its own inter-ministerial consultations, the has finally decided to alter the Supreme Court judgment only partially and appears to be in no hurry to push it.