Automatic disqualification of a legislator after conviction is ‘very drastic’ measure, says SC
Courts need to be careful while handing out a sentence, a bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna said.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday orally observed that automatic disqualification of a member of Parliament after conviction in a case is a “very drastic” measure, Bar and Bench reported.
A bench of Justices KM Joseph and BV Nagarathna made the remarks while hearing the Lakshadweep administration’s appeal against a January 25 Kerala High Court order that suspended Nationalist Congress Party leader Mohammed Faizal’s conviction in a murder case.
Faizal was disqualified as a Lok Sabha MP in January after a trial court sentenced him to 10 years of rigorous imprisonment in the case.
Under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a legislator sentenced to jail for two years or more stands to be disqualified from the date of conviction until six years after the end of the prison sentence.
Faizal’s disqualification was revoked on Wednesday, just before the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear a plea by him seeking reinstatement of his membership on the basis of the Kerala High Court order.
The bench disposed of Faizal’s plea and said that courts need to be careful while sentencing legislators.
The observation assumes significance since it comes at a time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stands disqualified from Parliament after a court in Gujarat on March 23 sentenced him to two years imprisonment in a criminal defamation case.
Though the court granted him bail for 30 days in order to allow him to appeal this verdict, the Lok Sabha secretariat on March 24 disqualified Gandhi from the house.