New Delhi, Sep 7: Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitley on Friday described Rahul Gandhi’s rejection of the ordinance on convicted politicians as a ‘desperate damage control exercise’, and said it is intended to show to the country that the government can make mistakes, but the Congress’s first family cannot.
“The move by the Congress Party that it rejects the ordinance is a desperate damage control exercise. It’s only when the revulsion has built across the country against this ordinance that the Congress Party is trying to cut its losses,” said Jaitley.
“In the last one month, the same subject matter of enabling convicted legislators to be a part of the legislative bodies has been approved by the UPA Cabinet twice, first as a bill and now as a ordinance,” he added.
Jaitley further said the parliament session was extended by a day so that this ordinance could be passed.
“At that stage, the Congress Party or its functionaries did not realise it. This is clearly a belated realisation of what now the Congress Party calls ‘nonsense’. If this is really ‘nonsense’ and the Congress Party believes it to be so then the heads which brought out this ‘nonsense’ twice in the last one month must roll,” said Jaitley.
“If those heads remain where they are then this is only a grand standing or at best charade intended to show to the country that the Government can make mistakes but the Congress’s first family cannot,” he added.
In a major embarrassment to the Congress-led UPA II Government, Rahul Gandhi earlier today dubbed the ordinance to negate the Supreme Court verdict on convicted lawmakers as ‘complete nonsense’, and said it should be torn up and thrown away.
“I personally think what the government is doing on the ordinance is wrong. It was a political decision, every party does it, and there is a time to stop this nonsense,” Gandhi said.
“It is about time that political parties mind and stop making these type of compromises. If we actually want to stop corruption then we cannot make these compromises,” he added.
The fate of the proposed ordinance to bypass the apex court’s ruling on barring convicted MPs and MLAs looked uncertain yesterday after President Pranab Mukherjee summoned Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde and Law Minister Kapil Sibal to seek a clarification.
The Union Cabinet had approved an ordinance to reverse the Supreme Court judgment mandating the immediate disqualification of lawmakers convicted for a criminal offence punishable with a jail term of more than two years.
The ordinance seeks to reverse the Supreme Court judgement that had not only disqualified lawmakers convicted of offences with two years or more in jail, but also barred from contesting elections.
The ordinance will allow convicted legislators to continue in office, if the appeal against the conviction is admitted by a higher court within 90 days.
In a landmark verdict delivered on July 10, the apex court ruled that MPs or MLAs shall stand disqualified from holding the membership of the house from the date of conviction.
“The only question is about the vires of section 8 (4) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA) and we hold that it is ultra vires and that the disqualification takes place from the date of conviction,” said an apex court bench of Justices A.K. Patnaik and S.J. Mukhopadhaya.
The apex court, however, said that its decision will not apply to MPs, MLAs or other lawmakers who have been convicted and have filed their appeals in the higher courts before the pronouncement of this verdict.
According to the provision of Representation of the People Act, a lawmaker cannot be disqualified in the event of his conviction in a criminal case if he or she files an appeal in the higher court. (ANI)