Calling it a “step in the right direction” legal experts have welcomed the Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on convicted legislators.
Former solicitor general senior advocate Gopal Subramanium felt the top court’s judgment is close to what the Justice Verma Commission had recommended
in its report that it had submitted to the government subsequent to the December 16 gangrape aboard a private bus in New Delhi.
The Justice Verma Commission had advised the government to enact a law to bar a politician from continuing as an MP or MLA the moment a court takes cognizance against him in a criminal case. Subramanium, who was a member of the Commission, said, “It’s the beginning of the cleansing process. It was long overdue and I hope the political class would understand they simply cannot get away.”
“A convicted government officer has many disabilities and limitations. He cannot continue under the service law. So, why should an MP or MLA continue if he is convicted,” said senior Supreme Court advocate Dushyant Dave, adding such double standards must end.
Former additional solicitor general Raju Ramachandran termed the judgment as a step closer to ensuring probity in public life. He said if an MP or MLA, upon losing his or her seat, ends up getting acquitted by the higher court, would be paying a small price for the larger cause of a clean public life.
“For the sake of probity in public life, the price which an individual pays is small compared to the larger public good,” he said.
According to Dave, the provision legitimizing convicted MP to continue was against the heart and soul of any democratic process. “Even if the court has interpreted more liberally, it is moving in the right direction and sending a signal to Parliament that what it did was wrong,” he stated.