In a landmark ruling that can cleanse Indian politics of criminal elements, the Supreme Court struck down the legal provision that protects a lawmaker from disqualification even after conviction in a criminal case. The Supreme Court ruled that MPs or MLAs shall stand disqualified from holding the membership of the house from the date of conviction in a trial court.
The court held Section 8(4) of the Representation of the Peoples Act as ultra vires. The section allows a convicted lawmaker to remain in office till the pendency of appeal.
This ruling could see several lawmakers in both Parliament and state assemblies lose their seats.
The court struck down the provision that protects a lawmaker from disqualification even after conviction in a criminal case.
But lawmakers who have already filed appeals against their conviction before the pronouncement of Wednesday’s verdict will not get affected.
As many as 31 per cent Members of Parliament (MPs), legislators (MLAs/MLCs) have criminal cases pending against them in police record, according to study done by the National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR).
According to a report out of the 4,835 MPs and MLAs in the country, 1,448 are facing criminal cases. A total of 776 MPs are facing charges while the number of legislators is 4,120.
Out of 543 Lok Sabha MPs, 162 have criminal cases pending against them with 75 facing serious criminal charges. Out of these 1448 members who have declared criminal cases, 641 have declared serious criminal cases like rape, murder, attempt to murder, kidnapping, robbery, extortion etc. Six MPs/MLAs/MLCs have declared rape charges in their affidavits.
But the political class, just like the verdict on bringing parties under the RTI, could close ranks and try to negate the ruling while the BJP said that such verdicts need to be studied before making any comment.