'SC verdict on disqualification of convicted MPs and MLAs a welcome step': Nitish

Patna, July 11 (ANI): Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday welcomed the Supreme Court's ruling that MPs and MLAs have to quit if they are convicted of a crime and they cannot stay on regardless of appeals to higher courts, saying it should be implemented at the earliest and is good for the country's democratic system.

"It is a very good decision. And when the Supreme Court gives a decision on any matter, it is the last thing. This matter was before the Supreme Court. Everybody gave their views on it and then the Supreme Court came to a conclusion," Kumar told media here.

"Now, when the honourable apex court has given a decision, it should be implemented. There will now be improvement and I think it is the inner feeling of the people. The Supreme Court's decision should be implemented and I think it is good for the country's democratic system," he added.

In a landmark verdict delivered yesterday, the apex court ruled that MPs or MLAs shall stand disqualified from holding the membership of the house from the date of conviction.

"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.

The Election Commission, in its reports from time to time, has been seeking amendment of the law for removal of the incumbent advantage to elected MPs and MLAs convicted of various offences.

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.

According to a study done by the National Election Watch and Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), as many as 31 percent MPs, legislators (MLAs/MLCs) have criminal cases pending against them in police record.

According to a report out of the 4,835 MPs and MLAs in the country, 1,448 are facing criminal cases.

Out of 543 Lok Sabha MPs, 162 have criminal cases pending against them with 75 facing serious criminal charges. (ANI)

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