Disqualification of lawmakers: Govt for consultations

New Delhi: The government today reacted cautiously to a Supreme Court verdict on disqualification of lawmakers, saying it will go through the detailed judgement to see its impact on the politics of the country and hold consultations before deciding on the next step.
"We will first read the verdict and see its impact on politics. We shall consult everybody and give our reaction," Law Minister Kapil Sibal told reporters here.
On being asked whether the government would challenge the verdict or make amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RPA), he said any decision will be taken after consulting everybody, including political parties.
The Law Ministry is the administrative ministry on RPA.
The apex court has struck down as ultra vires a provision of the RPA which protects convicted lawmakers against disqualification on the ground of pendency of appeal against their conviction in 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 which 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".