Setting aside the expulsion of former Punjab chief minister Capt. Amarinder Singh for alleged breach of privilege in connection with an alleged land scam, the Supreme Court on Monday criticised the state assembly for having "exceeded its powers".
Holding the exercise of legislative privileges under Article 194 (3) of the Constitution as "not proper" in the case, a five-judge Constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan cautioned against arbitrary exercise of power of legislative privilege, saying it would frustrate the objective of a parliamentary democracy.
"It is our considered view that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha exceeded its powers by expelling the appellant (Singh) on the ground of breach of privilege when there existed none. The allegedly improper exemption of land was an executive act attributable to the appellant and it did not distort, obstruct or threaten the integrity of legislative proceedings in any manner, the bench said in its 89-page judgment.
"If we were to permit the legislature to exercise privileges for acting against members for their executive acts during previous terms, the courts are likely to be flooded with cases involving political rivalries," the bench said.
Amarinder Singh, who is in Dubai, responded to the verdict saying it proves his ouster was a "blatant act of political vendetta" by the Badal Government.
"This (his expulsion) lawlessness and blatant act of political vendetta at the hands of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been proved by the Supreme Court," Singh said.