Explained: Why Lok Sabha Secretariat Issued Rahul Gandhi Disqualification Notification?

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On the basis of above cited settled law by the Supreme Court, the notification issued by Lok Sabha is a mere formality, which it has to perform as per the apex Court judgment saving Lok Sabha staff responsible from the contempt of court offence.

Panchkula (ABC Live): The Lok Sabha Secretariat on March 24, 2023 issued a notification regarding disqualification of Rahul Gandhi as member of Lok Sabha w.e.f 23/03/2023, since when he was convicted by Surat Court.  

After publication of the above mentioned notification it is a political issue raised by congress and other opposition parties that Lok Sabha Secretariat has acted in haste to declare Rahul Gandhi as unqualified for being a member of Lok Sabha as Mr. Gandhi has already given bail by CJM, Surat and he has right to appeal against order passed in the appellate Court within limitation of 30 days.

The ABC Legal Research team working on this case refers a judgement passed on 10/7/2013 by the Supreme Court of India titled Lily Thomas Vs Union of India & Others (WP (C) NO. 490 OF 2005), wherein the apex court ruled that,

“23. The only question that remains to be decided is whether our declaration in this judgment that sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution should affect disqualifications already incurred under sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act by sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures who have filed appeals or revisions against their conviction within a period of three months and their appeals and revisions are still pending before the concerned court. Under sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act, the disqualification takes effect from the date of conviction for any of the offences mentioned in the sub-sections and remains in force for the periods mentioned in the sub-sections. Thus, there may be several sitting members of Parliament and State Legislatures who have already incurred disqualification by virtue of a conviction covered under sub-section (1), or sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) of Section 8 of the Act. In Golak Nath and Others vs. State of Punjab and Another (AIR 1967 SC 1643), Subba Rao, C.J. speaking on behalf of himself, Shah, Sikri, Shelat and Vaidialingam, JJ. has held that Articles 32, 141, 142 of the Constitution are couched in such a wide and elastic terms as to enable this Court to formulate legal doctrines to meet the ends of justice and has further held that this Court has the power not only to declare the law but also to restrict the operation of the law as declared to future and save the transactions, whether statutory or otherwise, that were effected on the basis of the earlier law. Sitting members of Parliament and State Legislature who have already been convicted for any of the offences mentioned in sub-section (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act and who have filed appeals or revisions which are pending and are accordingly saved from the disqualifications by virtue of sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act should not, in our considered opinion, be affected by the declaration now made by us in this judgment. This is because the knowledge that sitting members of Parliament or State Legislatures will no longer be protected by sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act will be acquired by all concerned only on the date this judgment is pronounced by this Court. As has been observed by this Court in Harla v. State of Rajasthan (AIR 1951 SC 467):

“……..it would be against the principles of natural justice to permit the subjects of a State to be punished or penalized by laws of which they had no knowledge and of which they could not even with exercise of due diligence have acquired any knowledge.” However, if any sitting member of Parliament or a State Legislature is convicted of any of the offences mentioned in sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act and by virtue of such conviction and/or sentence suffers the disqualifications mentioned in sub-sections (1), (2) and (3) of Section 8 of the Act after the pronouncement of this judgment, his membership of Parliament or the State Legislature, as the case may be, will not be saved by sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act which we have by this judgment declared as ultra vires the Constitution notwithstanding that he files the appeal or revision against the conviction and /or sentence.

 As per above cited the Supreme Court of India categorically ruled that Mr. Rahul Gandhi ceased as Member of Parliament, the movement Surat Court convicted him guilty in defamation case and his membership of Parliament can only be restored by the Appellate Court once it stays the conviction of Gandhi made by CJM Surat on 23/03/2023.

On the basis of above cited settled law by the Supreme Court, the notification issued by Lok Sabha is a mere formality, which it has to perform as per the apex Court judgment saving Lok Sabha staff responsible from the contempt of court offence.

The ABC Legal Research team will publish a detailed critical analysis of CJM Surat Judgment dated 23/03/2023 after obtaining copies of documents of the case.

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