A plea has been filed before the Hon’ble Supreme Court challenging the Constitutional Validity of Section 8 (3) of The Representation of People Act, which provides for the automatic disqualification of a legislator from the parliament or State assembly upon conviction in a criminal case. The plea stated, ” the 1951 Act further categorizes the nature of cases wherein disqualification is permissible as enumerated u/s 8A, 9, 9A, 10 and 10A, which again specify the nature of the offences, for disqualifying a member and is in contradiction with sub-clause (3) of Section 8 of the 1951 Act.” [Aabha Muralidharan vs Union of India]
The plea is filed by PhD scholar and social activist Aabha Muralidharan. The plea further contained that Section 8(3) is ultra vires of the Constitution as it is curtailing the free speech of an elected Member of Parliament (MP) or Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). This petition is coming to light because it has been filed at a time when Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha.
The petitioner also relied on the judgement given in the Lily Thomas Case which struck down Section 8(4) of the act. “The operations of Lily Thomas are being blatantly misused for wreaking personal vengeance in political parties and the present scenario provides a blanket disqualification, irrespective of the nature, gravity, and seriousness of the offences, allegedly against the concerned Member, and provides for an “automatic” disqualification, which is against the principles of Natural Justices”, the plea stated.
Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years [other than any offence referred to in subsection (1) or sub-section (2)] shall be disqualified from the date of such conviction and shall continue to be disqualified for a further period of six years since his release”.