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Engineer Rashid: Just two hours of freedom for an MP

What makes the case of the MP-elect a little more complicated is not the custody parole but the timings and restrictions that the court has imposed.

News Arena Network - New Delhi - UPDATED: July 4, 2024, 10:18 AM - 3 mins read

What makes the case of the MP-elect a little more complicated is not the custody parole but the timings and restrictions that the court has imposed.

Engineer Rashid: Just two hours of freedom for an MP

All eyes will be on Parliament where, on July 5, Engineer Rashid will take oath as MP. (File photo)


MP-elect Engineer Rashid was granted two hours of custody parole for his oath-taking on July 5 by the Delhi High Court following multiple hearings on Tuesday. 

 

Currently incarcerated in Tihar Jail, Rashid faces charges under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for allegedly funding terrorism and promoting separatism in Jammu and Kashmir.


Despite being behind bars, Rashid contested the recent Lok Sabha elections as an independent candidate, securing a significant victory over his nearest rival, Omar Abdullah of the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (JKNC).

 

According to the 1951 Representation of the People Act, an individual who is jailed but not yet convicted retains the right to contest elections.

 

Similar cases have emerged in Indian politics. For instance, in Punjab, Amritpal Singh won his seat from Khadoor Sahib in Punjab while facing charges of fuelling separatism and the Khalistani movement. Like Rashid, Amritpal is also scheduled to take his oath on July 5.

 

The high court granted him parole for four days; he is currently lodged in Assam's Dibrugarh jail. His case is typical since jail authorities have to travel back and forth for days to facilitate his oath-taking. 

 

The two-hour parole granted to Rashid presents unique logistical challenges, including the coordination between jail authorities and Parliament to ensure his timely return.

 

How authorities will manage this affair is an interesting question.

 

While this case was proceeding with the court, the National Investigation Agency ( NIA) was asked to submit its reservations or objections to granting of parole.

 

 Although NIA had no objections, its officials urged the high court to set restrictions on the bail plea.

 

What does the Indian constitution tell us about such cases?

 

Article 99 of the Indian Constitution specifies that every MP must take an oath before taking their seat in Parliament. The oath is administered by the President or a person appointed by the President for this purpose.

 

Even after winning elections, judicial intervention is usually important in cases where proceedings or rulings must be decided by courts.

 

In special cases, if an MP is in jail, arrangements can be made for him or her to take the oath. This situation requires coordination between Parliamentary authorities and jail authorities.

 

MPs in custody are typically escorted by police, and they may be handcuffed depending on the security assessment. The use of handcuffs can be decided by the police based on the threat perception and regulations.

 

Transportation logistics depend on the distance and security arrangements. For example, Tihar Jail is approximately 18 kilometres from Parliament House in New Delhi.

 

Given the distance between Tihar Jail to Parliament House, with heavy rain forecast, will transporting an MP and facilitating his return within two hours be manageable?

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