The Madras High Court on Thursday, December 21, sentenced Tamil Nadu Minister K Ponmudy to three years imprisonment in a disproportionate assets case. The court has found Ponmudy guilty of criminal misconduct under the Prevention of Corruption Act and hence his disqualification as a legislator would fall under section 8(1) of the Representation of the People Act (RPA). This Act says that a person convicted for various offenses including provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, shall be disqualified for a period of six years.
Section 8(1) of the RPA states that if a legislator is sentenced to imprisonment for any of the offences mentioned in the section, then their disqualification would stand from the date of conviction till the entire period of their imprisonment and also an additional six years from their date of release from prison.
Since Ponmudy, who is an MLA from Tirukoilur Assembly constituency, has been sentenced to imprisonment for three years, he would stand disqualified for a total of nine years (three plus six years), according to section 8(1). The disqualification stands canceled only if he gets relief from the Supreme Court.
One should not confuse section 8(1) with section 8(3) of the RPA, which was the section under which Congress leader Rahul Gandhi was disqualified as Lok Sabha MP after he was convicted in a criminal defamation case.
According to section 8(3) of the RPA, a legislator has to be convicted and sentenced to imprisonment for at least two years for any offenses that do not fall under Section 8(1), for them to be disqualified. No such minimum requirement is mentioned in Section 8(1).