The Representation of People Act, 1951 lays down the terms and conditions for the qualification and disqualification of members of the Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha and the state legislatures. Based on the recommendations of the Election Commission, the president has the power to decide on the disqualification of a member.
Grounds for Disqualification under the Representation of People Act, 1951
• Conviction for Election Offences and Corrupt Practices: If a representative is convicted for any election offence or corrupt practices, they can be disqualified.
• Conviction for Criminal Offences: Representatives can be disqualified if they are convicted for an offence punishable under the Indian Penal Code, Protection of Civil Rights Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Prevention of Corruption Act, Prevention of Terrorism Act, etc. A conviction for any offence resulting in imprisonment for at least two years can result in disqualification for a period of six years from the date of release.
• Conviction under Hoarding or Profiteering Laws: If a representative is convicted under any law relating to hoarding or profiteering, or any law relating to the adulteration of food or drugs, or the Dowry Prohibition Act, they can be disqualified.
• Corruption and Dishonesty in Government Service: Representatives who have been dismissed from government service due to corruption or disloyalty can also be disqualified.
• Holding Office in Government Company: Holding an office in a government company (other than a cooperative society) in which the government holds 25% or more of the capital can result in disqualification.
• Failure to Lodge Account of Election Expenses: If a representative fails to lodge an account of their election expenses, they can be disqualified.
• Promoting Enmity between Different Groups or Bribery: If a representative is found promoting enmity between different groups or engaging in bribery, they can be disqualified.
Remedies against Disqualification
• High Court Challenge: The disqualifications can be challenged in the respective high courts.
• Supreme Court Appeal: The order of the High Court can be appealed in the Supreme Court.
• Struck Down Section 8 Clause (4): The Supreme Court has also struck down the Section 8 clause (4) of the Representation of Peoples Act, which allowed convicted lawmakers to retain their seats if they filed an appeal within three months of their conviction.