The Law on Suspension of MP and MLA

Jan19,2024 #MLA #Suspension

By Ashutosh Vinay

Published on: January 19, 2024 at 12:16 IST

In the Indian Democracy, Members of Parliament (MP) and Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA) play a vital role in shaping the legislative aspect of the country and its parliamentary system. However, with great powers come great responsibilities to stand up to the mark that is required to be comparative to bring a change in the legislation.

To ensure that these MLAs and MPs perform their duties without any conflicts there are some provisions that exist for the dismissal or suspension of MPs and MLAs if they don’t comply with the specific circumstances.

Recently a total of 146 MPs have been suspended from the parliament. The oppositions were demanding a debate on the security breach that happened on the 13th of December. The incident was that two men jumped from the visitor’s gallery and threw gas cannisters in the Lok Sabha assembly. The opposition MPs were demanding a statement/debate on why and how the security breach happened. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has promised to investigate into this security breach but he disapproved the demand of debate from the opposition.

This article is specifically aimed at Who are MPs and MLAs and what are their grounds for dismissal relating to the recent parliament security breach.

In the Indian Democratic Governance System, MLA means Members of Legislative Assembly, they are the representatives elected during a direct election by the public, after which they become the members of the legislative assembly and also form the government.

MP in India means Members of Parliament, they are the directly and indirectly elected representatives of the country. They constitute both the members of Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha.

For every MP in the Central Government there are 7-9 MLAs in the state government. MLAs are elected to work at a state level for the people while MPs work at the central level. Their main responsibility is to make laws based on the constitution of India. The state legislation takes cares for the issues in the state lists and a few from the concurrent list, while the central legislation takes care for the issues in the union list and a few from the concurrent list too. Various bills related to the solution to those issues are passed in the assembly and in the parliament too. Then the MLAs and the MPs vote for the bills and take a part in making laws according to it.

Disqualification of MP/MLA is outlined in three distinct situations, each governed by specific legal provisions:

  1. Articles 102(1) and 191(1): Disqualification criteria for members of Parliament and members of Legislative Assemblies. Grounds include holding an office of profit, unsound mind, insolvency, or lacking valid citizenship.
  2. Tenth Schedule of the Constitution: Provides for disqualification based on defection.
  3. The Representation of The People Act (RPA), 1951: Governs disqualification for conviction in criminal cases.

The Representation of The People Act, 1951, outlines specific grounds for the disqualification of members of Parliament (MPs) and members of Legislative Assemblies (MLAs). Chapter III of the Act, titled ‘Disqualification for Membership of Parliament and State Legislatures,‘ enumerates various practices that may lead to disqualification.

The grounds of suspension are as:

  1. Disqualification on Conviction for Certain Offences (Section 8):

Section 8 of the Act addresses disqualification based on convictions for specific offenses. The offenses listed include those under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, Customs Act, 1962, Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1987, and others. The disqualification periods vary based on the severity of the conviction:

  • For conviction with only a fine, disqualification lasts for six years from the date of conviction.
  • For imprisonment, disqualification extends from the date of conviction and continues for an additional six years after release.
  1. Disqualification for Corruption or Disloyalty (Section 9):

Section 9 deals with dismissal on grounds of corruption or disloyalty. It provides a mechanism for disqualification if a member engages in corrupt practices that undermine the integrity of the parliamentary system.

  1. Disqualification on Grounds of Corrupt Practices (Section 8A):

Section 8A specifically addresses disqualifications arising from corrupt practices by MPs or MLAs. It emphasizes the need to maintain high ethical standards within the legislative bodies.

The suspension of MPs and MLAs are not something that happens at a routine and the impact it has on the parliament’s functioning cannot be ignored in any means. While such disciplinary procedures are necessary there is a balance that must be maintained. Such excessive suspensions can hinder the functioning of constituencies and therefore such measures must be very rationally applied.

In cases like the recent suspensions where such suspension is considered as necessary, one should also consider the potential repercussions of its effect on the legislation. This requires a careful consideration of how severe the misconduct is as to be dismissed or suspended from the assembly. The balance between accountability and the democratic mandate given by voters is delicate.

The dismissal or suspension of MPs or MLAs can have significant implications for parliamentary and legislative stability. The impacts include:

  1. Instability: Dismissals can lead to a temporary vacuum in representation, causing instability in the legislative process.
  2. By-Elections: Vacancies created by disqualifications necessitate by-elections, incurring additional costs and diverting resources from regular parliamentary activities.
  3. Legislative Productivity: The absence of disqualified members may affect the overall productivity of legislative bodies, potentially hindering the passage of important bills and resolutions.

The grounds for suspension or disqualification outlined in The Representation of The People Act, 1951, serve as essential tools to uphold the integrity of parliamentary systems. While necessary for maintaining ethical standards, the repercussions of such dismissals highlight the delicate balance between accountability and the smooth functioning of legislative bodies. Striking this balance is crucial for sustaining a robust democratic framework.

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