Subsequent stay of conviction can’t restore lawmaker’s House membership, SC told

Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India, File Photo

New Delhi, July 23 (IANS) The Supreme Court was told on Monday that a lawmaker upon conviction gets automatically disqualified from continuing as a member of Parliament or of a state Legislature and his seat becomes vacant.

The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud was also told that even a subsequent stay of conviction, which happens rarely, would not reverse the disqualification.

The NGO citing the top court’s July 10, 2013 judgment in the Lily Thomas case, said that the moment a sitting lawmaker is convicted, he automatically ceases to be the member of legislature and the seat becomes vacant which can be filled only by holding a fresh election.

The court was told this as it reserved the order on a plea seeking declaration that in case of stay of conviction by the appellate court for an offence attracting disqualification under Section 8 of the Representation of People Act 1951 it cannot wipe out the disqualification and the membership of a disqualified lawmaker cannot be revived.

The Election Commission has supported the plea by the NGO, Lok Prahari.

The court took exception to the NGO’s contention that the law does not provide for stay of conviction. The court said that although not as a matter of routine, in certain cases courts can stay conviction.

At this, S.N. Shukla, who heads Lok Prahari, told the court that the stay of conviction by the appellate court at a subsequent stage would not impact the unseating of the convicted lawmaker which is automatic upon conviction.

Shukla told the court that a subsequent stay of conviction by the appellate court would not reverse the disqualification. He told the court that once a seat is declared vacant, it can be filled up only through a fresh election and the person whose conviction has been stayed can also contest in the election to fill up the seat.

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