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Cash-for-query: Speaker gets SC notice

The notice was served over the expulsion of an MP after he was secretly filmed accepting money.

india Updated: Jan 17, 2006 12:50 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to Lok Sabha Speaker Somnath Chatterjee on the expulsion of an MP from the House after he was secretly filmed accepting money in a TV sting, and referred the issue to a Constitution Bench.

"Since the matter involves interpretation of constitutional provisions, we are referring it to a five-judge Constitution Bench," a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice YK Sabharwal ruled on the plea by Raja Ram Pal of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), one of the 11 MPs caught in the sting in December last year and expelled.

Notice was also issued to the Election Commission, though the court declined to restrain it from holding by-elections to the 10 Lok Sabha and one Rajya Sabha seat that had fallen vacant after the expulsion of the MPs. Six of them belonged to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), three to the BSP and one each to the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) and the Congress.

The Bench issued notice to Attorney General Milon K Banerjee to assist the court in deciding the important question of law raised in the petition of Pal, who alone among the 11 has approached it.

The Bench said the petition required interpretation of Article 105 of the Constitution - whether it provided for the expulsion of a MP for reasons other than those contemplated in the Constitution or the Representation of the People Act (RPA).

The petitioner assailed his expulsion on the ground that Parliament did not have the power to remove a member caught in a sting operation without giving him sufficient opportunity to explain his conduct.

The petitioner contended that the Constitution provided for disqualification of a member only on the grounds of defection. Even the RPA did not have any provision to expel a member caught in a sting operation, he maintained.

First Published: Jan 16, 2006 14:49 IST