BJP leaders meet President, ask him not to sign UPA Govt. ordinance on convicted lawmakers

New Delhi, Sept. 26 (ANI): After meeting President Pranab Mukherjee here on Thursday, senior leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party-L.K. Advani, Sushma Swaraj and Arun Jaitley told media that they had told the former not to sign the UPA-led Central Government's ordinance aimed at diluting the Supreme Court's decision on not allowing convicted lawmakers to sit in Parliament or State Assemblies.

"The Indian Government is trying to dilute this (convicted lawmakers) decision of the Supreme Court. ...They (Government) should realise that the ordinance they are bringing about is against the Constitution," Advani said.

Leader of Opposition (Lok Sabha) Sushma Swaraj said the BJP requested the President of India not to sign this ordinance on convicted lawmakers, and instead send it back to the government for review.

Leader of Opposition (Rajya Sabha) Arun Jaitley said the BJP put forth three reasons before President Mukherjee for the ordinance to be dismissed, and said that it would be morally unacceptable for it to come into being.

"On behalf of the BJP, we have given three main reasons as to why the honorary President must not accept the ordinance, and refer it back to the government. In so far as it permits, a convicted legislator to continue to be a member of the House, contrary to the decision of the Supreme Court-this view of the government, through the ordinance, is morally unacceptable," Jaitley said.

"Procedurally, it is wrong because this whole issue has been referred to the standing committee because the Rajya Sabha refused to take it up for consideration. When it is pending before the standing committee, the government ought not to issue an ordinance," Jaitley said.

"The third reason of unconstitutionality (is) that the Supreme Court has said that because of the specific language of Article 102 and Article 191," he added.

On July 10, the Supreme Court in a landmark verdict struck down the legal provision that protects a lawmaker from disqualification after conviction in a criminal case.

The apex 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 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," said an apex court bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya.

The apex 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.

According to the provision of Representation of the People Act, 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. (ANI)

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