With Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker Sitasharan Sharma not issuing an order to declare state minister Narottam Mishra’s Assembly seat vacant days after the Election Commission (EC) disqualified him for wrong filing of election expenses, the poll panel is likely to reiterate its disqualification order in the high court on Wednesday.
Mishra’s prayer before the Gwalior bench of Madhya Pradesh High Court, to stay the disqualification order, will come up for hearing on Wednesday. The court had on June 30 refused to grant an interim stay. The Commission is learnt to be unhappy over the delay on the Speaker’s part in declaring Mishra’s seat, Datia, vacant.
“Article 190(3) (a) of the Constitution clearly states that the seat of a disqualified MP or MLA becomes vacant from the very day the order is passed. A copy of the order had gone to the Speaker’s office as well. The House should have issued a notification declaring the seat vacant,” a source in EC said.
The Commission had passed its order on June 23 disqualifying Mishra, a senior Cabinet minister in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, for three years over submitting a false account of his poll expenditure in 2008 Assembly election. A copy of the order was sent to Mishra on June 24. A copy was also sent to the Speaker’s secretariat.
Mishra is the Water Resources and Legislative Affairs Minister, and also holds charge of the Public Relations Department. The disqualification order makes him ineligible to contest the next state polls, expected in the second half of 2018.
Stating that he had received a letter from the EC asking him to proceed under Article 190 (3) (a), the Speaker told The Indian Express, “Since the matter is already in the high court, I will wait for its order. The final authority is either the Governor or the high court. The Speaker has no big role (in this case).”
Asked about the possibility of delay in court proceedings, Sharma said he would take the opinion of legal experts and refer the matter directly to the Governor. He said he was not required to consult the Cabinet. Normally, when the matter is referred to the Governor, he/she writes to the EC, which takes a final decision. “In this case the EC has already taken its decision,’’ Sharma said without elaborating when, and whether, he would write to the Governor.
Mishra, 57, had moved the court last week and argued that the order was unlawful. He also contended that he won a subsequent election in 2013, four years after the complaint was made, and it was not clear whether the EC order could be applied to an election won while the litigation on the previous election was pending. The court, however, refused to grant interim stay.