September 29, 2021 10:35:41 am
The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee to inform it by October 7 his decision on a petition seeking the disqualification of Mukul Roy as MLA since he joined the Trinamool Congress (TMC) after being elected on a BJP ticket.
On July 17, Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari had petitioned the Speaker to disqualify Roy from the Assembly, claiming he had defected to the TMC. The following month, BJP MLA Ambika Roy moved the High Court challenging Roy’s election as the chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and prayed for the nomination of an Opposition member to the post as per tradition.
A bench of acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said, “From the facts which have come on record, we find that the issue pertaining to disqualification of the respondent No 2 (Mukul Roy) as Member of the Legislative Assembly is co-related with him being the Chairman of the Committee on Public Accounts.”
The judges observed that the Supreme Court had prescribed a maximum of three months for decisions in petitions for disqualification under the anti-defection law, and noted that in Roy’s case it had already expired. “The objective and purpose of Tenth Schedule are to curb the evil of political defections motivated by lure of office, which endangers the foundation of our democracy. The disqualification takes place from the date when the act of defection took place. The constitutional authorities who have been conferred with various powers are in fact coupled with duties and responsibilities to maintain the constitutional values. In case they fail to discharge their duties within time, it will endanger the democratic setup,” the court noted.
It added, “A petition filed for his disqualification is pending before the Speaker for the last more than three months, the maximum period fixed in Keisham Meghachandra Singh’s case (supra) for decision thereof. Before we proceed further in the matter, place before us the order passed in the petition filed for disqualification of respondent No. 2 as Member of the Legislative Assembly.”
“The Speaker was required to decide the petition filed before him for disqualification of the respondent No. 2 having defected from BJP to AITC, as a result of which his membership to the Assembly itself was in doubt. In case the respondent No. 2 does not remain the Member of the Assembly, there was no question of he being even the Member of the Committee what to talk of its Chairman,” it said.
Following the TMC’s landslide poll victory in the Assembly election in May, Mukul Roy joined the ruling party on June 11, and was elected PAC chairman on July 9.
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