Congress’ chances of bagging the coveted Leader of Opposition’s post in Lok Sabha looks grim as Speaker Sumitra Mahajan said on Monday that she would follow the rules of the House.
“The Speaker does not have any personal discretion and supposed to follow rules. There are ‘Directions of the Speaker’ which mandate 10% strength to be recognised as Leader of the Opposition,” Mahajan said, in her first detail reaction on the touchy issue.
The Congress is far short of this minimum requirement with just 44 seats. The Speaker has earlier maintained that she would talk to constitutional experts and also look into different aspects. An impatient Congress had already sent her a petition, claiming their right over the post.
But the Speaker also kept a window open for changes as she said that the House can change the rules regarding recognising the LoP in the absence of any party not getting the required numbers. “If anybody wants a change in them, then a committee can be formed to look into them. But I need to follow the rules. I cannot do any thing on this,” Mahajan said.
The Lok Sabha Speaker’s stand comes a few days after the Congress received a jolt in the Supreme Court on the issue. Rejecting a petition filed by lawyer ML Sharma who argued that the Congress must get LoP status, the SC said that any decision taken by the Speaker will not come under judicial reviews.
“A ruling given by the Speaker in the chamber of the House is not amenable to judicial review,” said a three-member SC bench of Chief Justice RM Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.