Justice RV Raveendran, who delivered a dissenting judgment in the MPs’ expulsion case held that Parliament could not have taken the extreme action against the “cash for query” MPs in the absence of any express provision in the Constitution empowering it to expel its own members.
Allowing the petitions filed by the expelled MPs, he said that unlike in the UK, Indian Parliament was not sovereign and supreme and that the sovereignty lay in the Constitution.
Justice Raveendran agreed with the submissions of senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and PN Lekhi, who had claimed on behalf of the expelled MPs that the extreme action was not justified in the absence of any express provision in the Constitution conferring such power on either House of Parliament.
He said the right recourse would be to suspend the MPs found gulity of misconduct pending their prosecution under the existing laws to decide their fate. If acquitted, the suspension would be revoked. Otherwise, they would lose their membership.
Disagreeing with the majority view of the other four judges who upheld Parliament's power to expel MPs as a “self protection” exercise”, Justice Raveendran clarified that if at all Parliament wanted to expel the MPs it can be done only by suitable amendment to the Constitution.
He, however, agreed with the majority view that apex court had absolute powers to review the decision taken by Legislature and that Parliament will have to act within the limitations imposed by the Constitution.
Interpreting Articles 102 and 105 of the Constitution which confers power on Parliament to disqualify Members and grants it immunity and privileges, Justice Raveendran pointed out that the Constitutution makers had consciously used the words "Disqualification" of a Member and nowhere the term Expulsion" had been used.
The said disqualification would arise in instances like conviction, corrupt practice, violation of the provisions of the Representation of People Act and other offences; as such expulsion cannot be considered as an incidental matter of disqualification, he said.
"By no stretch of imagination, the power to expel a Member can be considered as incidental matter, if such a power was to be given, it would have been specifically mentioned," he said.
The dissenting judge said that MPs cannot enjoy immunity against corruption charges as any such privileges as decided in the JMM-PV Narasimha Rao bribery case was not available to the MPs caught taking bribes during the sting operation.
In the JMM case, the apex court had ruled that the MPs were immune to prosecution only where they took the bribe in question in respect of a vote given by him in Parliament.
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