Jharkhand: In setback to Marandi, HC refuses to intervene in anti-defection proceedings
The HC bench of justice Rajesh Shankar, which had reserved its order on January 5, dismissed Marandi’s petition as “not maintainable” since the Speaker’s verdict was still awaited.
In a setback for state BJP legislature party leader Babulal Marandi, the Jharkhand high court on Tuesday dismissed his petition challenging anti-defection proceedings against him being heard by assembly Speaker Rabindra Nath Mahto, which raises the possibility of his disqualification as a member of the House.
On August 31 last year, Mahto had concluded anti-defection proceedings against Marandi and reserved his verdict.
Marandi, however, had moved the HC challenging the proceedings, arguing that the Speaker had closed the hearing in the case without giving him adequate chance to produce witnesses and related arguments.
The bench of justice Rajesh Shankar, which had reserved its order on January 5, dismissed Marandi’s petition as “not maintainable” since the Speaker’s verdict was still awaited.
“The bench has dismissed our petition but has said nothing on the merits of the case. Our petition has been dismissed on procedural aspects. We are waiting for the written order. Once we get it, we will decide whether to appeal against it in a higher bench or wait for the Speaker’s verdict,” said Vinod Sahu, counsel of Marandi.
Marandi, who was the first chief minister of Jharkhand, had merged his party, Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajtantrik (JVM-P), with the BJP in February 2020 after suspending his legislators Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey. The two legislators merged their party with Congress.
Marandi was also unanimously elected as the BJP’s legislative party leader. However, Speaker Mahto refused to give Marandi the status of Opposition leader and initiated anti-defection proceedings on his own. Marandi challenged the move in the HC.
Four ruling alliance lawmakers later filed complaints against Marandi and the Speaker withdrew the suo motu proceedings and later started proceedings as per the complaints. The BJP also sought the disqualification of Tirkey and Yadav. Tirkey was later disqualified in April after being sentenced in a corruption case.
In May last year, Mahto rejected Marandi’s plea to drop anti-defection charges against him and cancel proceedings on the grounds that they were filed late.
Marandi’s lawyers have argued in Speaker’s tribunal that the petitions against Marandi were not maintainable as they were filed 10 months after the merger. They said they were to be filed within 45 days under the Representation of the People Act.