Despite the fact that the political parties rarely if ever find common ground, they were unanimous in voicing their concern over the “erosion” of Parliamentary supremacy at the all-party meet here on Thursday. And it was the recent Supreme Court ruling on the disqualification of the MPs and MLAs, if they were convicted in a criminal case and barring those behind bars from contesting the elections, which forced the political parties to close ranks.
Cutting across political lines, leaders of the various parties urged the Centre to bring amendments to the Representation of People’s Act in the upcoming Monsoon session of Parliament to overturn the apex court’s ruling.
Emerging from the nearly 90 minute-long meeting, the BJP’s Deputy Leader in the Rajya Sabha, Ravi Shankar Prasad said, “We are deeply concerned about the verdict, it will lead to atrocious consequences as any government can detain its political opponent one day before the poll nomination.”
Voicing similar concerns CPI leader D Raja virtually issued a warning. “If the Centre fails to bring an Amendment Bill in this session (of Parliament) there would be protests from the political parties on the floor of the House,” he said.
The meeting’s combative stance had also to do with the fact that the Centre, which was represented by Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Kamal Nath, did not give any commitment that such an amendment to RPA will be brought during the 16-day session.
Political parties demanded that the Centre bring in the Judicial Commission Bill, which seeks to appoint a broad-based National Judicial Commission that would give the Executive and the top echelons of Legislature a wider say in the appointment of the higher judiciary. In short, they would get to play a crucial role in the appointment of the Supreme Court and High Court Judges.
Senior Parliamentarians also voiced their concern for another recent apex court order against the reservation in the AIIMS faculty as also the ruling on the disqualification of legislators. At the moment, the disqualification is not automatic. The MPs and the MLAs have a six-month leeway for going in appeal.