Ending uncertainty over the procedure to notify the disqualification of convicted MPs Lalu Prasad and Jagdish Sharma, the Attorney General has told the Lok Sabha secretariat to immediately issue the notification declaring the seats vacant.
Giving his opinion for the second time in two weeks on the same subject, GE Vahanvati has made it clear that an MP stands disqualified the day he or she is convicted by a court and the notification announcing vacancy in seat should be done immediately. He has also warned that any delay in issuing notification could mean non-compliance of the Supreme Court order.
The country's top law officer has made it clear that the notification should be issued by the concerned House. In his earlier opinion, Vahanvati has said that the MP stands disqualified immediately. But his opinion was silent on the procedure to be followed for issuing notification. The Lok Sabha secretariat had approached him again to clarify on the procedure.
On the other hand, the Rajya Sabha secretariat has already set in motion the process to declare the seat of Congress MP Rasheed Masood, who was convicted and sentenced to four years imprisonment in a graft case last month.
Vahanvati has made it clear that following the July 10 Supreme Court judgement mandating immediate disqualification of MPs/MLAs convicted for offences punishable with more than two years in jail, there is no scope for any "interpretation" based on a hypothetical future scenario.
"The question of conviction and sentence being stayed by a higher court while hearing an appeal is not relevant at this juncture. It can be addressed separately as and when that stage arises, at the moment immediate disqualification is the law and it can t be postponed for any reason," the AG said.
He was asked by the LS secretariat to explain how to proceed if a higher court grants relief to Prasad and Sharma. The Supreme Court had on July 10 struck down a provision of the Representation of People Act that allows a convicted Member of Parliament or a state legislature to continue membership for a three-month period for filing an appeal to a higher court and get a stay on the conviction.
Following the order, Prasad, Sharma and Masood were the three sitting MPs who were convicted in corruption cases. The Lok Sabha secretariat was not clear on how to go about issuing notification.