Apt verdict against convicted lawmakers

Published: 11th July 2013 07:30 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th July 2013 07:30 AM   |  A+A-

In a landmark judgment the Supreme Court on Wednesday struck as ultra vires a provision of the Representation of People Act which protects convicted lawmakers against disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal against their conviction in the higher courts. The court held section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA), which gave automatic immunity to a sitting member after conviction if he filed an appeal within three months from his disqualification till disposal of his appeal, as ultra vires of the Constitution.

The SC has clarified that the order will not come into force with retrospective effect. “However, if any sitting member of Parliament or a State Legislature is convicted of any of the offences … and by virtue of such conviction and/or sentence suffers the disqualifications mentioned in sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act after the pronouncement of this judgment, his membership … will not be saved by sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act which we have by this judgment declared as ultra vires of the Constitution notwithstanding that he files the appeal for revision against the conviction and/or sentence,” its order said.

The verdict is a major move towards decriminalisation of Union and State legislatures. As the apex court observed, it does not shut the doors for convicted legislators from seeking a stay on their conviction/sentence. But as it observed, the window for such a safeguard is narrow: “An order granting stay of the conviction is not the rule and is to be resorted to in rare cases depending on the facts of the case. Whenever the execution is stayed, the conviction continues.” In keeping with the spirit of the judgment, the government must now take steps to put criminal trials involving elected representatives on fast track. This will not only be in public interest and keep legislatures free of criminal elements but also safeguard those who are wrongly convicted.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp