Rights of jailed MPs

June 11, 2024

In the recently concluded Lok Sabha elections, the victory of two candidates serving prison sentences on terror charges has raised questions about their ability to take oath and function as legislators.

Can Jailed Leaders Function as MPs?

  • Legal framework: Section 8(3) of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (RPA) disqualifies MPs if they are convicted of any offence and sentenced to imprisonment for not less than two years.
  • Constitutional right: Despite being in prison, jailed leaders have the constitutional right to take oath as Members of Parliament.
  • Temporary bail: Jailed leaders can seek temporary bail or custody to attend the oath-taking ceremony and perform other ancillary functions as MPs.

Rights of MPs if Arrested

  • Oath-Taking: Jailed leaders can take oath as MPs, but they must seek permission from authorities to be escorted to Parliament for the ceremony.
  • Inability to attend proceedings: After taking the oath, they must inform the Speaker in writing about their inability to attend House proceedings.
  • Speaker's referral: The Speaker will refer their requests to the House Committee on Absence of Members, which will make a recommendation on their absence.
  • Conviction and Disqualification: If convicted and sentenced to a minimum of two years in prison, they will immediately lose their seats in the Lok Sabha.