Parties that rarely see eye to eye united on Thursday urged the government to fight back against recent Supreme Court judgments barring legislators behind bars from contesting polls and disqualifying them the same day they are convicted by a court of law.
Expressing concern over the “erosion” of Parliament’s “supremacy”, opposition leaders asked the government to make amendments in existing laws to reverse the impact of the back-to-back verdicts. Parliamentary affairs minister Kamal Nath is learnt to have assured them that the government will come out with a response soon.
The developments at the all-party meeting could lead to a fresh round of hostilities between the legislature and judiciary, which have a history of clashes.
On July 10, the top court ruled that a legislator stood disqualified if convicted of a criminal offence attracting a sentence of two or more years in jail. It also declared as unconstitutional a provision in the Representation of People’s Act that allows a convicted legislator to continue in office on challenging his conviction, and said Parliament had acted beyond its powers in enacting the provision.
The second verdict barred a person who was in jail or in police custody from contesting elections.
Union Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development, Kamal Nath chairing the all party meeting ahead of the monsoon session in New Delhi. (PTI Photo)
The government is considering the option of either filing a review in Supreme Court or amending the Act to remove all doubts about allowing those in custody to fight polls.
“How can the government expect Parliament to function normally during the monsoon session when the authority of the House is getting eroded,” asked JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav, who also referred to another recent Supreme Court verdict disallowing reservation for SC/STs in super speciality faculty positions at AIIMS.
The BSP’s Satish Chandra Mishra seconded the need to reserve faculty positions for SC/ST candidates.
The RJD’s Lalu Prasad and Samajwadi Party’s Ramgopal Yadav were also vocal in seeking immediate steps by the government to tackle the issue of judicial overreach.
“Several parties expressed concern over the judgments and wanted the National Judicial Commission Bill to be introduced and passed this session itself,” Nath later said.
Read: Monsoon session: Agenda