New Delhi, 10 July (PTI): The Supreme Court today struck down as ultra vires a provision of the Representation of the People Act which protects a convicted lawmakers against disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal against their conviction in the higher courts.
“The only question is about the vires of section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction,” a bench of justices A K Patnaik and S J Mukhopadhaya said.
The court, however, said that its decision will not apply to MPs, MLAs or other lawmakers who have been convicted and have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.
The provision of RPA says that a lawmaker cannot be disqualified in the event of his conviction in a criminal case if he or she files an appeal in the higher court.
The apex court’s verdict came on the petitions filed by Lily Thomas and NGO Lok Prahari through its secretary S N Shukla who had sought striking down of various provisions of RPA on the ground that they violate certain constitutional provisions which, among other things, expressly put a bar on criminals getting registered as voters or becoming MPs or MLAs.
The PILs had said that certain sections of RPA allow convicted lawmakers to continue in office while their appeals are pending and thus those provisions are “discriminatory and encourage criminalisation of politics”.