The Supreme Court will on Wednesday pronounce its verdict on the petitions filed by 11 MPs challenging their expulsion from Parliament in December 2005 in the wake of ‘cash for query’ scam.
A five-judge constitution bench headed by Chief Justice of India YK Sabharwal will decide the extent of Parliament’s power to take action against its members guilty of misconduct.
It would adjudicate whether Parliament could expel erring MPs leading to termination of their membership, particularly in the absence of any express provision to this effect in the Constitution.
The bench, which had sought to know the about money paid by a TV channel to journalist Anirudh Bahal, who ‘exposed’ the MPs, was also expected to issue some guidelines on sting operations.
Other members on the bench are Justices KG Balakrishnan, CK Thakker, RV Raveendran and DK Jain.
The matter was heard at length for 12 days in September last during which senior counsel Ram Jethmalani and PN Lekhi advanced arguments on behalf of petitioners MPs against their expulsion while the Centre and Attorney General Milon K Banerjee justified it. Lekhi had contended that the sting operation was not an act in public interest.
Eleven MPs, including one from Rajya Sabha, were expelled from Parliament in December last year after a private TV channel showed them demanding/accepting money for raising questions in the House.
Those expelled were BJP members Annasaheb MK Patil, YG Mahajan, Pradeep Gandhi, Suresh Chandel and CP Singh, BSP members NK Kushwaha, Raja Ram Pal and LC Kol and Ramsevak Singh of Congress and RJD’s Manoj Kumar. The sole Rajya Sabha member was BJP’s CS Lodha.
The verdict is anxiously awaited in political circles as the court had turned down the Election Commission’s plea for holding by-polls for the 10 Lok Sabha seats falling vacant due to the expulsions.
Asserting that courts can’t interfere in the functioning of Parliament, the Centre had justified the expulsions, saying the action was necessary to restore public confidence in the political system.
The Attorney General had submitted that judicial review could not be applied for judging Parliament’s action with regard to its privileges as Parliament was not a body inferior to courts.
Speaker Somnath Chatterjee had maintained that the judiciary didn’t have jurisdiction to deal with this issue as it fell within the exclusive domain of the legislature.
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