New Delhi, Oct 21 (PTI): Congress leader Rashid Masood became the first member of Parliament to formally lose his seat as a result of a July 10 Supreme Court on convicted lawmakers.
Masood, 66, was held guilty in a case of corruption and other offences in September, and his conviction was the first after the Supreme Court ruling struck down a provision in the electoral law had allowed such lawmakers to stay on while their appeals were being heard.
The Rajya Sabha secretary general has issued the notification formally announcing a vacancy in the Rajya Sabha following Masood's disqualification, and has sent a copy to the Election Commission.
Lok Sabha members Lalu Prasad Yadav and Jagdish Sharma, both convicted in the Bihar fodder scam, are set to be formally disqualified as the Lok Sabha secretariat is likely to follow suit.
Masood, as health minister in the VP Singh government between 1990 and 1991, had nominated undeserving candidates to MBBS seats in colleges across the country that had been allotted to Tripura from a central pool.
Special CBI Judge J P S Malik held Masood guilty of offences under the Prevention of Corruption Act and IPC Sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy), 420 (cheating) and 468 (forgery).
Masood's conviction is the first case after the July 10 Supreme Court judgment that struck down sub-section 4 of Section 8 of Representation of the People Act, under which incumbent MPs, MLAs and MLCs can avoid disqualification till pendency of the appeal against conviction in a higher court. The appeal has to be made within three months of the conviction.
Seeking to negate the SC verdict, government had introduced a Bill in Parliament in the Monsoon session. But following differences with the opposition, the Bill could not be passed.
The Union Cabinet had then cleared an Ordinance on the lines of the Bill on September 24 but had to withdraw it after an unexpected public outburst by Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi against the ordinance, even though his party had framed it as leader of the ruling United Progressive Alliance.
Clearing the air about the procedure to be followed following conviction of an MP, Attorney General G E Vahanvati has recently told the Lok Sabha Secretariat that notification declaring the seats vacant should be issued immediately.
Giving his opinion for the second time in two weeks on the same subject, Vahanvati has made it clear that an MP stands disqualified the day he or she is convicted by a court and the notification announcing vacancy in seat should be done immediately.
He has also warned that any delay in issuing notification could mean non-compliance of a Supreme Court order.
The country's top law officer has made it clear that the notification has to be issued by the House to which the MP belongs.