Convicted legislators must lose seats, iterates SC

The Supreme Court today summarily turned down the union government's plea seeking a reversal of its 10 July judgement that members of Parliament and state legislatures convicted in  criminal cases be immediately disqualified, even if they have appeals pending.

The apex court also made it clear that MPs, MLAs and MLCs would stand disqualified on the date of conviction.

The Supreme Court, however, agreed to hear the centre's petition seeking a review of its accompanying ruling barring arrested persons from contesting elections.

In its July ruling, the Supreme Court had struck down a provision in the electoral law that protects a convicted lawmaker from disqualification if the candidate has appeals pending in higher courts.

The government has already introduced a bill in the Rajya Sabha, the upper house, to overcome the Supreme Court ruling through an Act of Parliament. The bill seeks to allow people in jail to contest polls, and convicted MPs and MLAs to retain their seat till their appeal is decided, while being barred from voting or drawing a salary.

The Representation of the People (Amendment and Validation) Bill, 2013, introduced by law minister Kapil Sibal on 22 August, provides for two changes in the Act of 1951, which were approved by the union cabinet last week. These were aimed at overcoming the earlier Supreme Court order.

The amendments to the Act, if passed by Parliament, will come into retrospective effect from 10 July 2013, the day the Supreme Court gave the twin judgements.

Of 4,835 MPs and MLAs in India, 1,448 are facing criminal charges, 641 of them for heinous crimes.

Of the 543 MPs in the powerful Lok Sabha, the lower house, 162 have criminal cases against them, with 75 of them being under serious criminal charges.