Published on: March 27, 2023

Disqualification of MP

Disqualification of MP

Why in news? Recently MP Rahul Gandhi has been disqualified from the Lok Sabha, a day after he was convicted in a defamation case by a Surat court.


  • The notice issued by the Lok Sabha Secretariat disqualifying Rahul Gandhi mentions Article 102(1)(e) of the Indian Constitution and the Representation of People Act, 1951.

What is Article 102 of the Indian Constitution?

  • Article 102 deals with the disqualification of MPs from either house of the Parliament.
  • Part (1) of the article lists the reasons why an MP can be disqualified. These include:
  • If he holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State, other than an office declared by Parliament by law not to disqualify its holder.
  • If he is of unsound mind and stands so declared by a competent court
  • If he is an undischarged insolvent
  • If he is not a citizen of India, or has voluntarily acquired the citizenship of a foreign State, or is under any acknowledgment of allegiance or adherence to a foreign State
  • If he is so disqualified by or under any law made by Parliament.

What is the Representation of People Act, (RPA)1951?

  • The Representation of the People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of election of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses,
  • It also includes disqualification with the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections.
  • It was introduced in Parliament by law minister Dr BR Ambedkar.

What are provisions that deal with disqualification under the RPA?

  • First, disqualification is triggered for conviction under certain offences listed in Section 8(1) of The Representation of The People Act. This includes specific offences such as promoting enmity between two groups, bribery, and undue influence or personation at an election.
  • Defamation does not fall in this list.
  • Section 8(2) also lists offences that deal with hoarding or profiteering, adulteration of food or drugs and for conviction and sentence of at least six months for an offence under any provisions of the Dowry Prohibition Act.
  • Section 8(3) states: “A person convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years 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.”

How does the disqualification work?

  • The disqualification can be reversed if a higher court grants a stay on the conviction or decides the appeal in favour of the convicted lawmaker. Significantly, the stay cannot merely be a suspension of sentence under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), but a stay of conviction.
  • Over the years, the law has changed when it comes to disqualification. Under the RPA, Section 8(4) stated that the disqualification takes effect only “after three months have elapsed” from the date of conviction. Within that period, lawmakers could file an appeal against the sentence before the High Court.
  • However, in the landmark 2013 ruling in ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’, the Supreme Court struck down Section 8(4) of the RPA as unconstitutional.

What is ‘Lily Thomas v Union of India’?

  • In 2013, the court in the Lily Thomas case had struck down Section 8(4) of the RP Act that gave a convicted lawmaker the power to remain in office on the grounds that appeals have been filed within three months of conviction.
  • The disqualification, however, would be formalised only when the Lok Sabha Secretariat issues a notification saying that the seat has fallen vacant and subsequently the Election Commission (EC) orders elections to the seat again.