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"Natural Justice Principles Violated": Manipur HC Sets Aside Legislative Assembly Speaker's Disqualification Order Against An MLA

Sparsh Upadhyay
5 Dec 2021 7:06 AM GMT
Natural Justice Principles Violated: Manipur HC Sets Aside Legislative Assembly Speakers Disqualification Order Against An MLA
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The Manipur High Court last week set aside a disqualification order passed by the Speaker, 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly against an MLA, Tongbram Robindro Singh in June 2020.The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice M. V. Muralidaran held that there was is a clear and flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice while passing the disqualification order as no...

The Manipur High Court last week set aside a disqualification order passed by the Speaker, 11th Manipur Legislative Assembly against an MLA, Tongbram Robindro Singh in June 2020.

The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjay Kumar and Justice M. V. Muralidaran held that there was is a clear and flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice while passing the disqualification order as no opportunity was given to the MLA of hearing before passing of the order.

The Court specifically noted that an elected member of the Assembly was divested of his position without even being put on notice and being given an opportunity of hearing.

The matter before the Court

Essentially, MLA Tongbram Robindro Singh was disqualified by the Speaker of the Assembly on the allegation that he had voluntarily given up the BJP, his original political party, and had supported the INC.

Holding that he had violated the provisions of the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India, he was disqualified from being a member of the Legislative Assembly noting that he had voluntarily given up his original party on 17/06/2020 by supporting the INC.

It may be noted that the Speaker had based his order on the 3 local newspapers reports which remained untested since no opportunity was given to the MLA to contest the case.

Against this order, the MLA moved the High Court with his writ plea and the High Court stayed the order in July 2020. Thereafter, a number of adjournments were taken for the purpose of filing a counter, still, the respondents in the case did not choose to file their counter-affidavits.

Therefore, the Court went ahead with the case and noted that the writ petitioner was not heard prior to the passing of the disqualification order, however, it was recorded in the order that no one appeared for him despite due notice.

"The impugned order itself manifests that the case was heard on 18/06/2020 and reliance was placed on three newspapers published on 18/06/2020 and the order was also pronounced on the very same day. In effect, there was no time lag practically for issuance and service of notice upon the petitioner. The allegation of the petitioner that he was not put on notice, therefore, merits acceptance," noted the Court.

In view of this, stressing that there had been a clear and flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice, the Court allowed the plea and set aside the disqualification order dated 18/06/2020 passed by the Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly against the petitioner/MLA.

Case title - Tongbram Robindro Singh v. Hon'ble Speaker, Manipur Legislative Assembly, and others

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