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Dr JP Trashes Govt. Move to Rescue Convicted Legislators

Dr Jayaprakash Narayan

Hyderabad, Sept 24 (INN): Legislators convicted of rape and murder in Nirbhaya-type cases in future will have the right to represent people if the Government amends the law to enable convicted persons to continue in office, said Lok Satta Party national President Dr Jayaprakash Narayan today.

“There cannot be anything more shameful and undemocratic than such a law,” said Dr JP referring to the union cabinet decision to amend the Representation of the People Act through an ordinance.

The ordinance is meant to overrule the Supreme Court judgment under which lawmakers convicted of crimes with punishment of two or more years face immediate disqualification.

In a media statement, Dr JP said that the Supreme Court judgment striking down Section 8 (4) of the RP Act is mature, wise and constitutionally unassailable. It is absurd to argue that a person convicted of a serious offence in a trial before an independent court of law should continue to remain an MLA or MP until an appeal against conviction is disposed of.

Dr JP pointed out that in India only a small number of cases are registered against the influential including elected legislators. Among them, very few cases go to the stage of framing of charges. Even when charges are framed, only six percent of cases end up in conviction, unless the accused make a confession. The process takes years and in some cases more than a decade.

“That the Government and all major political parties are conspiring to enable even the few convicted legislators to continue in office betrays their cynicism, moral bankruptcy and total unaccountability.”

Dr JP said the argument that politicians convicted of crimes related to a political agitation should be protected is equally untenable. In any democracy, resort to violence while expressing dissent cannot be condoned. In any case, there is no known case of a legislator being convicted for minor offences related to political agitations in contemporary India.

“If the Government persists in the dangerous course of promulgating an ordinance it will be quashed by the judiciary. The Government and political parties will become the laughing stock and objects of popular hatred,” Dr JP warned.

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