NGO seeks instant removal of tainted MPs
An NGO has sought immediate removal of all such MPs and MLAs, who have been convicted in criminal cases by trial courts but their appeals are pending before higher courts.
Lok Prahari, an association of retired government officers, has challenged before the apex court the validity of Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act that allows such legislators to continue to be members of the House during pendency of their appeal against conviction.
Observing that the PIL raised an important legal issue, a Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal said it needed to be decided.
The court has already issued notices to the Lok Sabha Secretary General, Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs, UP Government and Secretary, UP Vidhan Sabha seeking their response to the PIL.
The NGO submitted that the Court had last year ruled that sentences of less than two years awarded to a person for different offences, which are generally undergone concurrently, would be counted as total sentence for the purpose of Section 8 (4) of the Act.
If the total sentence is for over two years, the person would stand disqualified to contest elections for six years.
Lok Prahari General Secretary SN Shukla submitted that the protection under Section 8 (4) of the Act has led to an anomaly where a person sentenced to over two-years imprisonment cannot contest elections (after the ruling) but such an MP/MLA can continue to be member of the House.
He said if this principle was applied to convicted legislators awarded concurrent sentences of less then two years for more than one offence and the accumulated punishment was over two years, they were liable to be removed.
Shukla told the court that Uttar Pradesh Legislator Vijay Singh, who has been convicted of the murder of former UP Minister Brahm Dutt Dwivedi, was continuing as a member of the Assembly by virtue of Section 8 (4) of the Act.
Allowing a legislator convicted of a heinous crime like murder was mockery of democracy, he contended.
Lok Prahari wanted the court to issue a direction that such MPs/MLAs be debarred from sitting and voting in the House till the disposal of their appeals/revisions.
It also sought a direction to the Election Commission to furnish data as to how many MPs/MLAs were continuing to sit in the House, despite their being convicted in criminal cases. Besides, it urged the SC to ask High Courts to dispose of the appeals filed by convicted legislators expeditiously.
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