Congress defends ordinance on convicted lawmakers

New Delhi, Sep 25 (IANS) The Congress Wednesday defended an ordinance negating a Supreme Court order on disqualification of lawmakers saying it "was brought to protect the constitution".

"The Congress doesn't want to protect any convicted law maker. If he is finally convicted he will be disqualified as per law," Congress spokesperson Raj Babbar told reporters.

"The ordinance has been brought to protect the constitution," he said.

He said that the ordinance merely prevents immediate disqualification of a lawmaker in case of a conviction by a lower court but at the same time takes way his right to vote along with the perks and privileges, including salary.

The Congress also refuted allegations that the ordinance was approved by the union cabinet in a hurry in order to protect party MP Rashid Masood and Rashtriya Janata Dal chief Lalu Prasad, against whom court verdicts in different cases were expected next month.

"There was no hurry. The government had brought in a bill in the monsoon session of parliament but the opposition did not debate and pass it. It is the right of a government to protect the constitution and bring in an ordinance," said Babbar.

He said the ordinance would go before parliament in the winter session where it would be debated.

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