Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha for the second time this year.
What is the issue?
The NCP lawmaker was sentenced to a decade of rigorous imprisonment for attempting to murder P Salih in January.
- On January 11th, a sessions court in Lakshadweep convicted Faizal and three others for attempting to murder Mohammed Salih, the son-in-law of the late union minister P M Sayeed, during the Lok Sabha elections 2009.
- The high court declined to suspend the conviction of the Lakshadweep MP, but it did suspend the 10-year sentence given to Faizal and the other three individuals involved in the case.
Constitutional Provisions for Disqualification of Parliament Members
- Article 102 of the Constitution outlines the circumstances under which a person may be disqualified from running for elections or serving as a Member of Parliament.
- These include holding:
- an office of profit under the Union or state government,
- being declared of unsound mind by a court,
- being an undischarged insolvent,
- not being a citizen of India or voluntarily acquiring foreign citizenship,
- Or being disqualified under any law passed by Parliament.
- Parliament has the power to establish additional conditions for disqualification through legislation.
Representation of the People Act, 1951:
- Representation of the People Act, 1951 Any person sentenced to imprisonment for two or more years will be disqualified from the date of conviction and such person will be disqualified from contesting elections for 6 years after the date of expiry of the sentence.
- Exception: Sitting members have three months from conviction to appeal; disqualification is delayed until appeal decision.
Disqualification on Ground of Defection:
Fifty-second Amendment Act inserted Tenth Schedule in the Constitution which is termed as anti-defection law.
- The anti-defection law deals with situations of defection in Parliament or state legislatures by: (a) members of a political party, (b) independent members, and (c) nominated members.
- In political scenario it is a situation when a member of a political party leaves his party and joins hands with other parties
- The practice of ‘defection’ in Indian politics has always been the breeding ground of political instability and uncertainty in the country.
A Member could be disqualified:
- If he or she voluntarily gives up the membership of a political party or joins any other political party after the election, votes or abstains from any crucial voting contrary to the directive circulated by his/her respective political party.
- A nominated member if he/she joins any political party after six months from the date he/she takes his seat.
- If, not less than two-thirds of the members of the legislature party have agreed to merge with other party they are exempted from disqualification.
The government may consider suggestions given by various committees and make suitable amendments to the existing law to help it to develop to the best possible extent.
Role of Presiding Officer:
The decision regarding disqualification under the tenth Schedule is made by the Chairman of Rajya Sabha and the Speaker of Lok Sabha.
- In 1992, the Supreme Court established that the determination made by the Chairman/Speaker is eligible for judicial review.
Supreme Court Verdicts
- In 2002, in the case of Union of India (UOI) v. Association for Democratic Reforms, the Supreme Court ruled that every candidate running for election to the Parliament, State Legislatures, or Municipal Corporation must disclose their criminal records, financial records, and educational qualifications when submitting their nomination papers.
- In 2005, the Supreme Court of India ruled in the case of Ramesh Dalal vs. Union of India that a Member of Parliament or Member of Legislative Assembly can be disqualified from running in elections if they have been convicted and sentenced to at least two years in prison by a court of law.
- In 2013, the Supreme Court of India ruled in the case of Lily Thomas v. Union of India that Section 8(4) of The Representation of the People Act, 1951 was unconstitutional.
- This section allowed Members of Parliament (MPs) and Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) convicted of a crime to continue serving in their positions until their appeal against the conviction was resolved.
- The court further stated that MPs and MLAs convicted for two years or more would be disqualified from their positions immediately.
- In 2015, the Supreme Court ruled that candidates must disclose their criminal antecedents, especially for heinous crimes, when filing nomination papers as the law requires.