The Supreme Court today sought a response from the Election Commission on a PIL alleging that despite the ruling of the apex court, elected lawmakers continue to enjoy their status as MPs and MLAs for quite some time after their conviction in criminal cases. Initially, a bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justices FMI Kalifulla and A M Khanwilkar was reluctant to issue notice on the PIL of NGO ‘Lok Prahari’ by saying, “It is for the Election Commission to act in this matter as the law has been laid down by the court.” The plea, filed through S N Shukla, the secretary of the NGO, alleged that though the law has been settled by the apex court in its 2013 judgement that a lawmaker stands disqualified on conviction, but due to the delay in the notification on the part of legislative Secretariat, the convicted MLAs keep enjoying fruits of the office. It has sought a direction to the Registry of all the high courts that the certified copy of the judgements convicting lawmakers, be made available to legislative Secretariat within 24 hours so that a disqualification notice can be issued at the earliest.
The bench then issued notice to the poll panel on the PIL and asked as to why it has not taken steps even after three years of the apex court judgment to implement it. In a landmark judgment, passed on a PIL filed by the same NGO, the apex court had held that chargesheeted Members of Parliament and MLAs on conviction for offences, will be immediately disqualified from holding membership of the House without being given three months’ time for appeal, as was the case before. Prior to 2013, a lawmaker could continue as an MP or MLA on filing of an appeal against conviction in higher courts. The apex court struck down section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act leading to immediate disqualification of MPs and MLAs upon conviction in an offence.