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J'khand speaker reserves disqualification verdict

J'khand Speaker reserved judgment on disqualification petitions against MLAs who withdrew support to Munda govt.

india Updated: Sep 13, 2006 18:26 IST

Jharkhand Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari on Wednesday reserved judgment on the disqualification petitions against three legislators, a day before Chief Minister Arjun Munda seeks a trust vote in the house.

The speaker will pronounce his ruling on the petitions against Enos Ekka, Kamlesh Singh and Stephen Marandi either later in the night on Wednesday or on Thursday morning.

It is likely to come before the crucial trust vote, which will decide the fate of the Arjun Munda government—reduced to a minority after Ekka, Kamlesh Singh and two others withdrew support to his National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government.

"I will pass the judgment after considering the constitutional aspects," Namdhari said after six hours of hearing without clarifying exactly when.

Namdhari had issued notices to the three legislators asking why they should not be disqualified under the anti-defection law.

Ekka's lawyer RK Jain later told reporters that the "attitude of the speaker was biased".

The closed door proceedings against the three had begun at 10.20 am in the speaker's chambers with Namdhari first hearing the case against Ekka, who belongs to the Jharkhand Party (JP) and is charged with violating the whip of his party.

Former JP president NE Horo had issued a whip to Ekka in March last year to vote in favour of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA), but the legislator went with the NDA. The case has been pending for the last 16 months.

Kamlesh Singh belonged to the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and also violated the whip when he voted for the NDA.

The third, Stephen Marandi, is charged with joining the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Democratic despite winning the elections as an independent.

Each of the three legislators was given two hours to present his respective side.

Namdhari had issued notice against the three legislators on Sep 7 and asked them to reply by Sep 11. Lawyers of all three had sought one week to file their reply.

The speaker had been initially petitioned by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to disqualify the three on grounds that they had violated the Constitution.

The case against the three has been strengthened after the Supreme Court on Monday refused to intervene and asked them to wait for the speaker's decision on the matter.

This has also greatly bolstered the beleaguered Arjun Munda government whose continuance is in jeopardy after the four rebel ministers—Enos Ekka, Harinarayan Rai, Madhu Koda and Kamlesh Singh—withdrew support on Sep 5.

At present, the Munda government enjoys the support of 39 legislators, including the speaker, in the 82-member house.