Former Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on Monday criticised the action of Governor H R Bhardwaj and Assembly Speaker K G Bopaiah in handling the political situation witnessed in Karnataka in which the BJP government won the trust motion by a voice vote.
"I am surprised at both the events," he said referring to the Governor advising the Speaker to maintain the configuration of the House and the decision of the Speaker to disqualify 11 BJP and five Independent MLAs before the confidence vote was taken up.
"I do not think that the Governor of a state has power or authority to give direction to the Speaker of the Assembly in discharge of his (Speaker) duties," he told PTI.
Chatterjee said in the matter of disqualification of members, the Speaker acts in quasi-judicial capacity and cannot be dictated by anybody.
He was also critical of Bopaiah's role as Speaker for disqualifying 16 members from the house "without following the procedures laid down by the Constitution. I don't know of any authority or any provision in the Constitution or otherwise which enables Speaker to disqualify any member by any sort of interim order.
"Our Constitution specially provides as to how the jurisdiction of the Speaker in the matter of disqualification of members will be exercised for which rules have been laid down under the Constitution".
He said those provisions do not contain or give jurisdiction to any Speaker to issue order like this without proper procedures being followed.
"The Speaker is bound to apply principle of natural justice apart from the provisions of the Constitution. In this case, so far as I have been given to understand from the information which I got from the electronic media, the procedure is not being followed and hardly there was time to comply with those requirements," Chatterjee said.
Further, the veteran parliamentarian said that discharge of such quasi-judicial function by the Speaker is amenable to the jurisdiction of the court.
"Although, I have been very strict in preserving the rights of Speaker in relation to the proceedings of the House, I am afraid, I cannot find any authority which will enable Speaker of any Legislative Assembly or House of People to disqualify members merely on application," he said.