Supreme Court nudges Parliament to rethink Speaker’s disqualification powers
A bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman told the Manipur assembly speaker to decide on the Congress legislator’s disqualification under the anti-defection law within four weeks.Updated: Jan 21, 2020 14:25 IST
The Supreme Court on Tuesday nudged Parliament to revisit the powers of the Speaker to disqualify lawmakers for defection, observing that the presiding officer also belongs to one political party or the other.
News agency Press Trust of India said the Supreme Court’s advice to rethink the Speaker’s powers came in a verdict relating to a Congress lawmaker joining the N Biren Singh-led Bharatiya Janata Party government after state elections in March 2017. The top court suggested that Parliament could look at setting up an independent mechanism to decide petitions under the anti-defection law.
A bench led by Justice Rohinton Nariman told the Manipur assembly speaker to decide on the Congress legislator’s disqualification under the anti-defection law within four weeks. It also told the petitioners that they were free to come back to the top court if the Speaker doesn’t still act.
The Congress, the single-largest party with 28 seats, was 3 seats short of the majority mark in the 60-seat assembly. The BJP, with 21 seats, moved in to stake claim with an alliance with the Naga People’s Front, Nationalist People’s Party and the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP). Congress lawmaker Shyamkumar extended support to the BJP, helping N Biren Singh form a coalition government.
Shyamkumar was made a minister of town planning, forest and environment in the BJP government.
At least 13 petitions were filed by Congress leaders before the Speaker Y Khemchand Singh to seek the Congress legislator’s disqualification.
But the Speaker did not act on the complaints.
Two Congress MLAs Keisham Meghachandra and Md Fajur Rahim next approached the Manipur high court.
The high court noted the seriousness of the issue but it declined to pass any directions on the ground that the issue regarding powers of high court to interfere with the speaker’s discretion is pending before the Supreme Court.