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SC Seeks Statement From Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly In Plea For Decision On Disqualification Of Defected Congress MLAs

Sanya Talwar
22 Sep 2020 9:22 AM GMT
SC Seeks Statement From Speaker, Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly In Plea For Decision On Disqualification Of Defected Congress MLAs
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The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the plea seeking a decision by the Speaker of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly on disqualification of 22 defecting MLAs be listed after a week for the Speaker's statement in that regard.A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun at first informed Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha appearing for the petitioner, Congress MLA...

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed that the plea seeking a decision by the Speaker of Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly on disqualification of 22 defecting MLAs be listed after a week for the Speaker's statement in that regard.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde, AS Bopanna & V. Ramasubramaniun at first informed Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha appearing for the petitioner, Congress MLA Vinay Saxena that an adjournment letter had been circulated in the plea.

However, when Tankha informed the court that the case had been listed today for a response from the Speaker on his decision for disqualification, the bench enquired as to who was appearing on his behalf. 

Counsel for the Legislative Assembly appeared and submitted that he had only received a copy of the plea yesterday and was seeking 2 weeks to file a response.

To this, CJI Bobde remarked, "What is the difference, between the Vidhan Sabha and the Speaker? All you have to do is make a statement".

At this juncture, Tankha urged the court to direct the Speaker to decide the disqualification petition within two weeks instead.

In this backdrop, the bench sought the Speakers statement as aforementioned on the next date.

On the last date, the top court had sought response from the Speaker of Madhya Pradesh Assembly on the reason for not taking a decision on petitions seeking disqualification of 22 defecting MLAs from the Indian National Congress to Bhartiya Janata Party.

The bench had issued notice on a plea filed by Congress MLA Vinay Saxena which stated that the that the Speaker has violated the deadline of 3 months to decide disqualification which has been set by the Supreme Court in its recent ruling pertaining to the Manipur MLA Defection issue [Keisham Meghachandra Singh V. Manipur State Legislative Assembly].

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal & Vivek Tankha appeared in the case.

The plea contends that more than four months have passed since filing of the disqualification petitions against the Scindia-loyalist MLA's & has been kept in cold storage by the Speaker deliberately since March 12.

"The disqualification petition was filed on March 12, 2020, which has been pending for over about four months and no order or proceeding has been initiated in that period. This intentional delay amounts to virtually defeating the very purpose and objectives of anti-defection law as contained in the Tenth Schedule" - reads the plea.

Two Congress MLAs had moved a petition before the Madhya Pradesh Vidhan Sabha Speaker seeking disqualification of six rebel Ministers on which Speaker N.P. Prajapati is yet to take a decision. The petitioners, Govind Singh and Lakhan Singh Yadav, contended that the "grotesque conduct" of the Ministers in in connivance with BJP of defections from within the State Congress legislature party was a "breach and abandonment" of the party discipline.

"Against all ethos and in complete disregard of the anti-defection law, the said ex-MLAs have been rewarded for defecting from INC with the appointment of 12 such ex-MLA's as Ministers of State. This has been facilitated by the deliberate inaction on part of the Speaker to decide their disqualification petitions even after the said ex-MLAs have repeatedly admitted to having voluntarily given up the iNC's membership and have submitted that they were ready to face the consequences of the defection" - Excerpt of Plea

Vinay Saxena has prayed in his plea that 12 of the 22 rebel MLAs who have been accommodated in the council of ministers be restrained from functioning as ministers till a decision comes on the disqualification petition in light of the Keisham Meghachandra Singh judgment.

On March 19, Top Court ordered that floor test should be held tomorrow in the Madhya Pradesh Legislative Assembly for proving the majority of Kamal Nath Government in in the petition filed by former CM Shivraj Singh Chouhan and other BJP leaders seeking immediate floor test in Madhya Pradesh assembly for proving the majority of Kamal Nath Government.

On April 13, vide a 68-page judgment, the Supreme Court affirmed its order passed on March 19 to hold floor test in the MP assembly for proving the majority of the previous government led by Kamal Nath.

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