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Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Governor or courts cannot interfere in Maharashtra BJP MLAs’ suspension: Constitutional experts

Even if the MLAs approach the court, the court will not be able to do much in this regard as the Constitution restricts high court or the Supreme Court from interfering with internal proceedings of the House, experts said.

Written by Manoj Dattatrye More | Pune |
Updated: July 6, 2021 12:46:53 pm
BJP MLAs stage a protest on the steps to the Maharashtra Assembly, in Mumbai on Tuesday. (ANI Photo)

Even as the 12 suspended BJP MLAs have approached Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari and plan on moving the Bombay High Court over their suspension from Maharashtra Assembly for a year, Constitutional experts said neither the Governor nor the courts can interfere with the legislature proceedings as the Constitution bars them from doing so.

On Monday, the 12 BJP MLAs were suspended for one year from the state assembly  for creating ruckus over OBC quota and misbehaving Shiv Sena legislator Bhaskar Jadhav, who was the speaker in the chair. Denying the charges levelled against them, all the BJP MLAs staged a walk out from the House.

Later, the 12 BJP MLAs met the Governor and urged him to stay the suspension order. The Governor promised to look into the issue. The BJP is also likely to approach the high court to get the stay suspended, party sources said.

However, Constitution experts told The Indian Express that neither the Governor nor the courts have a right to interfere with House proceedings. “Though the BJP MLAs approached the Governor and urged him to stay the suspensions, the Governor can do little on this count. The Constitution does not allow him the right to interfere with the proceedings of the state legislature. Similarly, even if the MLAs approach the court, the court will not be able to do much in this regard as the Constitution restricts high court or the Supreme Court from interfering with internal proceedings of the house,” said Constitution expert Ulhas Bapat.

Bapat said this was not the first time MLAs have been suspended for a year and neither was the punishment harsh. “In fact, it was an appropriate punishment. How dare they rush into the well of the House, snatch the mike and mace and disrupt the proceedings? They are MLAs who are supposed to raise public issues in the House. They are not goondas to behave in an unruly manner. This kind of behaviour is not expected from people’s representatives,” he said.

Bapat said the state BJP is in the habit of rushing to the Governor for every issue. “But this time, it will not work. Governor has no right whatsoever to interfere with the proceedings of the legislature.”

Jadhav had told the Assembly that the BJP MLAs not only rushed to the well, tried to snatch the mike and mace kept on the Speaker’s table, but also used abusive language against him. BJP MLA Ashish Shelar, however, denied that the MLAs were abusive. He said it was a one-sided action and the ruling party members who also indulged in verbal duels were spared.

Anant Kalse, former Principal Secretary, Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat, said, “Under Article 226 of the Constitution, the MLAs can approach the high court. However, Article 212 prevents the courts from interfering with the internal matter of the House or what goes inside the House. Only the speaker has the right to decide or take call on the internal proceedings of the House. Article 212 of the Constitution, says…

“Courts not to inquire into proceedings of the Legislature. The Constitution has clearly laid down that the validity of any proceedings in the state legislature shall not be called in question on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure.”

Bapat said the only option before the MLAs is to apologise to the Speaker. “After which the speaker can take the decision either to lessen the punishment or waive it,” he said.

Kalse said the Speaker, Opposition leader and ruling party leaders can sit together and resolve the issue. “There is no need to go to the courts or the Governor. All the three can sit together and can resolve the issue. The BJP MLAs can tender an apology either orally or in writing. That is the best solution. In the past too such things have happened several times. Suspensions were withdrawn the same day after the unruly MLAs had said sorry,” he said.

The suspended legislators include Sanjay Kute, Ashish Shelar, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Majahan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Parag Alavani, Harish Pimple, Ram Satpute, Jayakumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Narayan Kuche and Kirtikumar Bhangdiya.

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