Will Amritpal Singh get bail? His lawyer says authorities have to grant him relief

The court could give him a day's special parole to attend the swearing-in

FILES-INDIA-ARREST-POLITICS-RELIGION-SIKHISM (File) 'Waris Punjab De chief Amritpal Singh visiting the Golden Temple in Amritsar | AFP

Amritpal Singh, the jailed radical preacher, sprung a surprise when the results of the Lok Sabha elections were announced from the Khadoor Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in Punjab. Singh, who fought the elections from jail as an Independent candidate, won by 1,97,120 votes, defeating Congress's Kulbir Singh Zira.

But, can Singh, who is currently languishing in Assam's Dibrugarh Central Jail, get bail to swear as in MP? Though Singh has been jailed under the National Security Act (NSA) which allows the government to detain individuals for up to 12 months without pressing formal charges, he can still swear in as a Parliamentarian.

Though there are no separate provisions in the Constitution for this, past instances show that jailed lawmakers are granted temporary parole to take the oath. Constitution expert and former Lok Sabha secretary general PDT Achari said being sworn in as a Member of Parliament is a constitutional right. But, Singh has to seek permission from a court to be escorted to Parliament for the oath ceremony. Once they have taken the oath, they will have to return to prison.

AAP's Sanjay Singh is one such leader who was granted permission to swear in as Rajya Sabha MP. Singh, who was then imprisoned in Tihar on money laundering charges, was granted permission by a trial court which directed the jail superintendent to ensure that he was taken to Parliament and brought back to the jail with adequate security.

However, this is not similar to being released on bail. It is just a special parole for a day.

In Singh's case, his lawyer  Rajdev Singh Khalsa says they have discussed the strategy. "But first of all his release is important for us and we are taking all necessary legal aid for this," Khalsa told reporters.

He added that both the BJP and AAP governments would be compelled to grant relief to Singh due to public support. "The further strategy is of getting bail. The government will have to grant them relief because there is no alternative, the government will be compelled to do so, both the BJP government and the AAP government. Amritpal Singh was making Punjab drug-free. The people have approved that his arrest was illegal and immoral," Khalsa said.

What after that?

According to Achari, Article 101(4) of the Constitution explains what happens with the absence of members from both Houses of Parliament without prior sanction of the Chair.

After taking oath, the MP has to write to the Speaker, informing him about his inability to attend the House. The Speaker will then refer this to the House Committee on Absence of Members. The committee will recommend whether the member should be allowed to remain absent from House proceedings. The recommendation is then put to vote in the House by the Speaker.

However, if Singh is convicted or jailed for a minimum of two years, they would lose their seats in the Lok Sabha immediately as per the Supreme Court judgment of 2013, which holds that MPs and MLAs would be disqualified in such cases.

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