MPs and MLAs who face immediate disqualification on their conviction in a criminal case with a jail term of two years or more may breathe easy with the government on Tuesday clearing an Ordinance to protect them and undo a two-month-old Supreme Court verdict.
Government decided to bring the Ordinance after failing to get a Bill to this effect passed in Parliament during the recent Monsoon Session.
The ordinance will come into effect from July 10 this year once the President gives his assent.
The Supreme Court had on July 10 ruled that an MP, an MLA or an MLC would stand disqualified immediately if convicted by a court for crimes with punishment of two years or more.
Government moved the Supreme Court for a review earlier this month which was rejected.
The decision to take the Ordinance route, which was denigrated by the Aam Admi Party, came against the backdrop of a Congress MP Rashid Masood facing the prospect of disqualification as he was recently convicted in a case of corruption and other offences.
Former Rail Minister and RJD chief Lalu Prasad too faces the prospect of losing his Lok Sabha membership if found guilty in a fodder scam case to be decided on September 30.
The Ordinance, which is in lines with the Bill, states that a convicted MP or MLA will not be disqualified if an appeal is filed within 90 days and the court stays the conviction and the sentence. But, it makes it clear "that the MP/MLA shall neither be entitled to vote nor draw salary and allowances" by adding a proviso to sub section (4) of section 8 of the RP Act.
"We have only done what the SC had said. In fact we have gone a step further...the measure will act as an impediment for those convicted," Law Minister Kapil Sibal said here after the Ordinance was approved by the Union Cabinet.
If a lawmaker fails to get a stay on the sentence or the conviction within 90 days, he or she will stand disqualified. Convicted persons cannot contest polls as per the R P Act.
The Cabinet note on the Ordinance said since the bill is pending in Parliament and the Monsoon session was adjourned sine die, the government is taking the ordinance route.
Attacking the government for the ordinance, AAP said it exposes the intentions of the political class which has "stooped" to a new low to protect the corrupt.