Hyderabad, Sept 26 (INN): Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today urged President Pranab Mukherjee to prevent promulgation of an Ordinance to exempt convicted legislators from disqualification until the appeal is disposed of.
In a letter to the President, Dr. JP said, “As the elder statesman of the country with unmatched experience and erudition, you are best qualified to protect our democratic institutions, dignity of Parliament and State Legislatures, and rule of law. As the President of the Republic, defender of the Constitution, and conscience keeper of the nation, you have the moral stature and Constitutional authority to intervene and prevent promulgation of the proposed Ordinance.”
The Ordinance is a blatantly unconstitutional, morally wrong and cynical move that will weaken our democracy, said Dr. JP.
The Ordinance seeks to overturn the Supreme Court judgment of July 10 holding Section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act us ultra vires.
Dr. JP said, “A careful reading of Articles 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution and the Supreme Court’s judgment makes it unambiguously clear that any disqualification that applies to a person for being elected applies equally to an incumbent legislator for continuing as a member.”
The proposed Ordinance also violates Article 14 of the Constitution which says that the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law.
Dr. JP told the President that the Union Cabinet has erred in recommending promulgation of the Ordinance exempting incumbent legislators convicted of a crime under Section 8 of the RP Act, 1951 from disqualification that would apply to any person contesting for elective office.
“This Ordinance is bound to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Apart from the unconstitutionality of the proposed Ordinance, it is morally reprehensible and democratically indefensible. It is absurd to claim that an incumbent legislator convicted of a serious a crime can continue to be a lawmaker. Such a brazen act of cynicism will further undermine people’s already eroding faith in Constitutionalism, rule of law and our democratic institutions. The nation looks up to you to come to the defense of Constitution in this difficult hour.”
Dr. JP urged the President to invoke his powers under Article 123, read with Articles 74 and 111, and return the Ordinance to the Council of Ministers for reconsideration considering that the Supreme Court had already held such a law unconstitutional, and subsequently rejected a review petition filed by the Government.
If the Council of Ministers resubmits the Ordinance for his assent, Dr. JP requested the President to refer it to the Supreme Court for its opinion under Article 143 of the Constitution. Under Article 143, “if at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, he may refer the question to the Supreme Court.”