Wary of the possible impact of the Punjab and Haryana High Court judgment declaring five defector MLAs as unattached and restraining them from holding public office,the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government maintains a studied silence on the issue. But Speaker Kuldeep Sharma sticks to his stand,saying the High Court cannot pass any directions to him about restraining them from holding a public office.
The Speaker says the situation is ironic as the High Court took almost five months to pronounce its judgment that was reserved on July 18,2010,but wants him to dispose of cases of these MLAs in four months. It is quite incongruous to expect me to deliver a judgment within four months when the honourable high court itself took five months in pronouncing a judgment that was reserved about five months ago. How can I do this? I have not only to record 72 witnesses but also to observe and cross-question them, Sharma told The Indian Express.
Asked if he intended to inform the state government regarding the part of the order that restrained these MLAs from holding any public office,he said,There are no directions to me. Rather,there cannot be any directions to me in this regard as giving them office is the prerogative of the state government or the Governor. Out of the five MLAs who deserted Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC) to join the Congress,two are Cabinet ministers whereas one MLA is the Chief Parliamentary Secretary (CPS).
Senior state officials also maintained that directions had not been passed to the state. We are yet to study the complete order,though on the face of it we are not party to the dispute, said a senior officer,requesting anonymity.
However,legal expert and HJC chief Kuldeep Bishnois lawyer Satyapal Jain had a different take on this. I find the Speakers arguments ridiculous. I am astonished that the MLAs still continued in their office despite strict and clear directions from the court. The Speaker is the custodian of the Constitution,and the order is passed on his appeal. Hence,he is constitutionally,legally and morally bound to ensure that it is complied with in letter and spirit, he said.
Asked if the order was binding on the state government too,he said,Its a composite order. The state government the Governor,the Chief Minister and the chief secretary are all responsible for its implementation. Its not that the Speaker is the only person to implement the judgment.