Friday, June 2, 2023

Supreme Court says courts need to be careful while sentencing provision on automatic disqualification of lawmakers

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The Supreme Court has remarked that courts need to be careful when it comes to sentencing lawmakers as the automatic disqualification of parliamentarians upon conviction is a drastic measure.

A bench comprising of Justice KM Joseph and  Justice BV Nagarathna made the observation after they were apprised by Additional Solicitor General (ASG) KM Nataraj that Section 8(3) of the Representation of the People Act leads to automatic disqualification of a parliamentarians soon after they are convicted for imprisonment of two years or more.

Justice Joseph remarked that this section is very drastic and we have to be careful thinking about sentence. 

The top court was hearing two pleas.

One which was filed by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) leader and (former) Member of Parliament (MP) from Lakshadweep PP Mohammad Faizal who said that after his conviction was even though his conviction in an attempt to murder case has bee suspended, he has not been reinstated to Parliament.

The other plea was by the Union Territory seeking a stay of the Kerala High Court order that had suspended the conviction and sentence of Faisal.

The bench had in February refused an interim stay but issued notice in the Union Territory’s petition.

The matter was called out for hearing on Wedneday, where Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for Faizal, said that the bench that Lok Sabha secretariat has notified restoration of Faizal’s membership to the lower house.

Manu Sanghvi said that it took nearly two months for the Lok Sabha to restore the membership. However, the writ petition could be disposed now.

Advocate Menaka Guruswamy tried to intervene in the matter and sought an audience submitting that she represents the complainant in the case.

However, the bench refused any audience and proceeded to dispose of the writ petition.

It then took up for hearing the appeal filed by the Lakshadweep administration challenging the order passed by the Kerala High Court suspending his 10 years sentence and conviction under charges of attempt to murder.

The bench said that it was prepared to hear the said appeal; however, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought an adjournment.

The bench, therefore, adjourned the matter for April 24.

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