Will Rahul Gandhi get relief from Supreme Court?
A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the “automatic disqualification” of lawmakers upon their conviction and being sentenced to a jail term for two years or more according to section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act.The plea, filed by a Kerala-based social activist, said the immediate reason for approaching the apex court was a recent development related to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s disqualification as a member of Parliament from the Wayanad Lok Sabha constituency, after he was convicted by a court in Gujarat’s Surat in a 2019 criminal defamation case.The petitioner, has sought a declaration that the automatic disqualification under section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 is ultra vires the Constitution for being “arbitrary” and “illegal”.The petition has claimed that an automatic disqualification of people’s representatives of elected legislative bodies restrains them from “freely discharging their duties cast upon them by the voters of their respective constituencies, which is against the principles of democracy”.“The present scenario provides a blanket disqualification, irrespective of the nature, gravity and seriousness of the offences, allegedly against the concerned member, and provides for an ‘automatic’ disqualification, which is against the principles of natural justice since various convictions are reversed at the appellate stage and under such circumstances, the valuable time of a member, who is discharging his duties towards the public at large, shall be rendered futile,” the plea, said.Regarding Gandhi’s disqualification, the plea said the conviction has been challenged, but in light of the operations of the present disqualification rules under the 1951 Act, the stage of appeal, the nature of the offences, the gravity of the offences and the impact of the same over the society and the country are not being considered, and in a blanket manner, an automatic disqualification has been ordered.“All that the petitioner and the petition wish to establish is that the right under Article 19(1)(a) enjoyed by a member of Parliament is an extension of the voice of millions of his supporters,” it said.The plea said the provision ignores the first schedule of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) on “classification of offences”, which can be categorised under two headings — cognisable and non-cognisable and bailable and non-bailable.The plea said the grounds for disqualification ought to be specific with the nature of offences as specified under the CrPC and not in a “blanket form”, as is currently in force according to section 8(3) of the 1951 Act.It said the apex court had, in the case of Lily Thomas versus Union of India, declared as ultra vires the Constitution.
Dr. Ajay Kummar Pandey( LLM, MBA, (UK), PhD, AIMA, AFAI, PHD Chamber, ICTC, PCI, FCC, DFC, PPL, MNP, BNI, ICJ (UK), WP, (UK), MLE, Harvard Square, London, CT, Blair Singer Institute, (USA), Dip. in International Crime, Leiden University, the Netherlands )Advocate & Consultant, Supreme Court of India & High Courts4C Supreme Law International, Delhi, NCR. Mumbai & DubaiTel: M- 91- 9818320572. Email: email@example.com