Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dr.JP's Letter to the President of India

26th September 2013

Shri Pranab Mukherjee
The President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi - 110001

Esteemed Rashtrapati Shri Pranab Mukherjee ji,

1. The reported Union Cabinet decision to recommend promulgation of an Ordinance to exempt convicted legislators from disqualification until the appeal is disposed of is a blatantly unconstitutional, morally wrong, cynical move that will weaken our democracy.

2. The Supreme Court in its July 10 verdict in WPs No 490 and 231 of 2005 held unequivocally that “Parliament had no power to enact sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly subsection (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution” (Para 22). The Court, in this judgment, relied on the wording and intent of Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution. The Court in Para 20 held: “Looking at the affirmative terms of Articles 102(1)(e) and 191(1)(e) of the Constitution, we hold that Parliament has been vested with the powers to make law laying down the same disqualifications for (a) person to be chosen as a member of Parliament or a State Legislature and for a sitting member of a House of Parliament or a House of a State Legislature”. The Court further held: “the provisions of Articles, 101(3)(a) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution expressly prohibit Parliament to defer the date from which the disqualification will come into effect in case of a sitting member of Parliament or a State Legislature. Parliament, therefore, has exceeded its powers conferred by the Constitution in enacting sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act and accordingly sub-section (4) of Section 8 of the Act is ultra vires the Constitution.”

3. Article 102(1)(e) states as follows: “As person shall be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being a member of either House Parliament ………………………………… e) if he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.”

Article 101(3)(a) states as follows: “If a member of either House of Parliament becomes subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) or clause (2) of Article 102, his seat shall thereupon become vacant.”

Identical provisions exist in respect of State Legislatures in Articles 191(1)(e) and 190(3)(a) of the Constitution.

4. A careful reading of these Constitutional provisions and the Supreme Court’s judgment makes it unambiguously clear that any disqualification that applies to a person for being elected applies equally to an incumbent legislator for continuing as a member. It is a settled legal principle that the Supreme Court has both the power and duty of judicial review of a legislation or executive decision under Articles 32, 141 and 142.

5. In addition, Article 14 of the Fundamental Rights chapter of the Constitution explicitly guarantees, “the State shall not deny to any person equality before the law, or equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.” Section 8 (4) of RP Act, 1951 or its variant in the form of the Ordinance for which the Union Government now is reportedly seeking the President’s assent is clearly violative of Article 14, in addition to being violative of Articles 190, 191, 101 and 102 of the Constitution.

6. Under these circumstances, the Union Cabinet has erred egregiously in recommending to the President the promulgation of the Ordinance exempting incumbent legislators convicted of a crime under Section 8 of the RP Act, 1951 from disqualification that would apply to any person contesting for elective office. This Ordinance is bound to be struck down by the Supreme Court. Apart from the un-Constitutionality of the proposed Ordinance, it is morally reprehensible and democratically indefensible. It is absurd to claim that an incumbent legislator convicted of a serious a crime can continue to be a lawmaker. Such a brazen act of cynicism will further undermine people’s already eroding faith in Constitutionalism, rule of law and our democratic institutions. The nation looks up to you to come to the defense of Constitution in this difficult hour.

7. As the elder statesman of the country with unmatched experience and erudition, you are best qualified to protect our democratic institutions, dignity of Parliament and State Legislatures, and rule of law. As the President of the Republic, defender of the Constitution, and conscience keeper of the nation, you have the moral stature and Constitutional authority to intervene and prevent promulgation of the proposed Ordinance.

8. I therefore urge you to invoke your powers Under Article 123, read with Articles 74 and 111, and return the Ordinance for the reconsideration of the Council of Ministers. Considering that the Supreme Court had already held such a law unconstitutional, and subsequently rejected a review petition filed by the Government on the subject, this is also a fit case for a Presidential reference of the matter to the Supreme Court under Article 143. Under Article 143, “if at any time it appears to the President that a question of law or fact has arisen, or is likely to arise, which is of such a nature and of such public importance that it is expedient to obtain the opinion of the Supreme Court upon it, he may refer the question to that court for consideration and the Court may, after such hearing as it thinks fit, report to the President its opinion thereon.” This is a clear case of great public importance, and a fundamental question of constitutional validity has arisen. Therefore, if the Council of Ministers resubmits the Ordinance for your assent, I urge you to refer it to the Supreme Court under Article 143 of the Constitution.

9. Esteemed Rashtrapatiji, the nation now looks up to you for guidance and wise counsel. An elected government has only the duty to govern under the Constitution, but cannot arrogate to itself the power to undermine the Constitution and democratic norms. I appeal to you to act in this case decisively and in the best interests of the nation in order to uphold the Constitution, public morality and democratic institutions.

With warm personal regards

Yours sincerely

Jayaprakash Narayan
National President
Lok Satta Party


  1. yes ..... there is every need to disqualify these persons

  2. I don't agree with this. The recent decision by a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court is contrary to the Constitution Bench of the SC which validated the law for conditional immunity to convicted MPs/MLAs. Actually the government could have filed for a review of the recent two-judge decision and tried to succeed - the chances were in favour of success and validation of the law. Anyway it is settled principle all over the world that legislators should have such conditional immunity in order to make work democracy better. JP is inexperienced, immature and swayed by some transitory ideas. He is also an opportunist who jumped onto the bandwagon of separatism in AP recently. Don't blindly believe him.

    1. As far as I know the government did file a review petition but it was dismissed by the Supreme Court saying there were no grounds for reviewing the judgement. It was precisely because of this dismissal that the government brought in the controversial ordinance which, in all probability, it will now withdraw because of the 'Rahul fiat'. I fail to understand that if you and I would lose our jobs if we get convicted in a court of law, why should the MPs/MLAs get a conditional immunity. It is because of such a loophole that criminal MPs/MLAs are able to continue in office because it takes forever to dispose of all the appeals right up to the Supreme Court.
      Coming to your comments regarding JP I am simply aghast. Here is a man who is working all out to bring in clean politics and good governance and you bemoan that he is not experienced in politics. Yes he is not experienced in the kind of dirty politics that this hapless nation has been subjected to for the last 65 years. As for your accusation that he is immature and swayed by some transitory ideas, I shall not engage with you at this stage because you have not come out with specifics. I vehemently reject your further accusation that he is an opportunist. Clearly, you do not understand him at all.

  3. Mr Sharma ji, I dont know how experienced you are and how committed but agree to the point that we should not believe blindly some one and disagrees to the point that JP is opportunist. can u pls suggest more qualitative politician than JP who required for our society nowadays, any way i wont believe blindly yours but jus for survey.. :)

  4. Will you please elaborate your experience Mr. Sharma. On behalf of which convicted (to be convicted) politician you are speaking.