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Legislator Disqualification: Pre-Lily Thomas, Lily Thomas, L



  Aug 28, 2023

Pre-Lily Thomas , Lily Thomas and Lok Prahari :Disqualification of Sitting legislators


Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 - Pre Lily Thomas Case

Disqualification Provisions for Sitting Legislators and Others:om

The provisions of Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, before the Lily Thomas case, introduced a notable distinction between sitting legislators and other citizens in terms of disqualification:
 

Disqualification Criteria for Conviction:

Citizens convicted of an offense and sentenced to imprisonment for a minimum duration of two years would face disqualification. This disqualification would come into effect from the date of conviction.
 
The disqualification would remain applicable for an extended period of six years following the individual's release from imprisonment.
 

Special Provision for Sitting Legislators:

A significant differentiation was made for sitting legislators who faced conviction and imprisonment.
 
Disqualification of Sitting LegislatorsIn the case of these sitting legislators:
 
Immediate disqualification would not occur.
 
A grace period of three months would be granted, starting from the date of conviction.
 
During this three-month window, the sitting legislator could appeal for revisions concerning the conviction or sentence.
 
The disqualification would be deferred until the appeal or application was resolved by the court within the three-month period.
 
In summary, Section 8(4) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, before the Lily Thomas case, established distinct provisions for sitting legislators facing conviction. These provisions allowed a three-month period of immunity after conviction, during which they could file appeals or applications for revision. Disqualification would be delayed until the court resolved the appeal or application, providing a unique safeguard for sitting legislators. Other citizens would not have this privilege and would be disqualified to contest immediately after the two-year conviction is given.
 

Lily Thomas vs Union of India (2013): Case Overview

The Lily Thomas vs Union of India case addressed the disparity between elected representatives upon their conviction in criminal cases and other citizens. The case centered around the constitutionality of Section 8(4) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, which allowed convicted lawmakers a three-month window to appeal their convictions and, during this period, prevented their immediate disqualification from office.
 

Background:

Lily Thomas, a practicing lawyer and social activist, filed a public interest litigation (PIL) challenging the constitutional validity of Section 8(4) of the RP Act. She argued that allowing convicted lawmakers to continue holding office during the appeal process undermined the principles of justice, equality, and true democracy. She contended that this provision provided an undue advantage to legislators by enabling them to remain in power despite criminal convictions.
 

Key Issues:

 

Constitutionality of Section 8(4):

The primary issue was whether Section 8(4) of the RP Act was constitutionally valid and whether it violated the principles of equality, fairness, and democracy.
 

Supreme Court's Ruling:

The Supreme Court declared Section 8(4) of the RP Act unconstitutional. The Court ruled that allowing convicted lawmakers a three-month period for appealing their convictions and delaying their disqualification violated the principles of equality before the law, equal treatment of citizens, and the rule of law.
 

The Court's reasoning included:

 

Equal Treatment:

Article 102(1) of the Indian Constitution that deals with disqualification treats sitting members and others equally. Granting special exemptions to sitting members for a specific period contradicted this principle.
 

Public Morality and Democracy:

Upholding the sanctity of the electoral process and maintaining public trust were crucial to a healthy democracy. Allowing convicted legislators to hold office undermined these values.
 

Judicial Scrutiny:

The Court emphasized the need for public representatives to be role models and held to higher standards. Delayed disqualification allowed legislators to use their office for purposes contrary to public interest.
 

Impact:

The Lily Thomas case had a significant impact on the political landscape of India. The judgment aimed to ensure that elected representatives with criminal convictions could not exploit the legal process to remain in power. It reaffirmed the importance of maintaining the integrity of the democratic system and holding public officials to higher standards of accountability and morality.
 
There are arguments For and Against Section 8(4) of the RP Act. They are not very relevant for the aspirants.Understand the basics thoroughly.
 

Lok Prahari case 2018

In Lok Prahari, the Supreme Court held that:
 
As the decision in Lily Thomas has clarified, a stay of the conviction would relieve the individual from suffering immediate disqualification. A Stay of the sentence is not enough.


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