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Speaker will not reply to SC notice on MPs? expulsion

LOK SABHA Speaker Somnath Chatterjee will neither accept a Supreme Court notice nor appear before the court to explain the expulsion of some MPs found guilty in the cash-for-query scandal.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 01:47 IST

LOK SABHA Speaker Somnath Chatterjee will neither accept a Supreme Court notice nor appear before the court to explain the expulsion of some MPs found guilty in the cash-for-query scandal.

Chatterjee announced his decision on Friday, after an all-party meeting unanimously urged him to ignore the court notices. The BJP, the main opposition party, agreed with the view but said the speaker should ask the government to convey his views to the court. Chatterjee said there was “nothing by way of confrontation” in the decision, and he was merely performing his constitutional duty to protect the rights and privileges of the House.

He said before referring the issue to a Constitution bench, the court should have examined whether it had any “authority to look into a matter belonging to the exclusive domain of the Lok Sabha”.

The MPs were expelled after a House decision in which all MPs participated by casting their votes. “Challenging the decision was like challenging the MPs’ votes,” he said. Unless the MPs’ votes are “nullified”, the decision cannot be “revoked”.

Article 105(2) of the Constitution says no member can be questioned on his vote. Any action questioning Parliament’s expulsion of its members will violate Article 105.

Chatterjee said the Supreme Court had itself ruled in the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha case that no court could take away the right of the House to decide on the conduct of its members. Even the Constituent .

Assembly said no other authority could go into the House’s powers to punish erring members.

The government’s view, given by Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee, was that the speaker's stand was “right”, he said. Urging all organs of the Indian State to respect the “Lakshman rekha” of separation of powers, Chatterjee said the Constitution “did not contemplate existence of any super organ”.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 01:47 IST