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HindustanTimes Wed,16 Apr 2014

Convicted MPs can't be disqualified: Govt

Bhadra Sinha, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, February 12, 2013
First Published: 23:13 IST(12/2/2013) | Last Updated: 01:11 IST(13/2/2013)

The Centre on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that convicted MPs and MLAs could not be disqualified as it could have serious consequences for a government "surviving on a razor edge-thin majority."

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In an affidavit filed in the apex court, the Centre justified a legal provision in the election law that protects a convicted MP or MLA from being disqualified.

The affidavit filed by the legislative department of the ministry of law and justice said the forfeiture of a membership would reduce the strength of the House and also decrease the number of members of the political party to which such a convicted person belongs.

Disqualification of even one member may also have a "deleterious" effect on the functioning of a government that may be surviving on a razor edge thin majority, where each member counts significantly.

The affidavit was filed in response to the court's query as to why MPs and MLAs convicted by a court should be treated as a "special class."

Under section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) a convicted MP or an MLA is allowed to continue as a member of the assembly or Parliament if he or she challenges his or her conviction. This provision been challenged before the SC.

The affidavit further added the object of the provision wasn't to ensure continuity of a member but to make sure the democratically constituted House didn't get disrupted.

"Also, if a member gets acquitted by the appellate court then there is no provision of restitution qua the Parliament. It also affects the right of an electorate who votes for a certain candidate keeping in mind that the said candidate shares the same views and ideology as the electorate," the affidavit stated.

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