Despite its low numbers, the Congress has made a pitch for the Leader of Opposition in Parliament.
The party has also said that under democratic functioning, the opposition can never be without a head, and it is ‘legally untenable’ to claim that its leader would not be eligible for such a position.
In a detailed note, K C Mittal, head of the party’s legal department, has said that the LOP has many “statutory functions” to discharge in selection to high offices and claimed that it was untrue that a party required 10% strength of the house, as a minimum numerical requirement, to obtain the LOP status.
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Alleging that it was an “imaginary and self assumed interpretation” to use Direction 121(c) by the Speaker — which prescribes 10% strength for a ‘party’ to be recognised in the house — as a condition for LOP, Mittal said this applied only to regulate a matter not covered by an Act or rules.
But the status of the LOP is covered by the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition Parliament Act, 1977, which “nowhere prescribes 10% minimum strength”.
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Rather it mentions “the greatest numerical strength as being the dominant requirement”. When there is one party with this strength, “there is no scope or room of doubt” about which force would be recognized as such by the Speaker, claimed Congress.