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Leader of Oppn: SC junks plea to quash Mavalankar rule

The Supreme Court Friday threw out a petition that sought to get “Mavalankar’s 10 per cent rule” quashed.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Published: August 9, 2014 2:35:56 am

The Supreme Court Friday threw out a petition that sought to get “Mavalankar’s 10 per cent rule” quashed.

Setting aside the rule would have brightened the chances of the Congress party to get the Leader of Opposition (LOp) post in Lok Sabha.

Under rules formulated by G V Mavalankar, the first Speaker of Lok Sabha, a party must have at least 10 per cent of the strength of the House in order to qualify to be designated as a parliamentary party and the leader of the largest such parliamentary party in the opposition ranks is designated Leader of Opposition. The rule has been followed since then. The Congress had 44 seats in the present Lok Sabha, less than the 10-per cent mark.

A bench led by Chief Justice of India R M Lodha, however, noted that not only Mavalankar’s rule was not a statutory provision but also that a House Speaker’s statement or procedure evolved to run the House was outside the purview of judicial review.

“Ruling of Speaker in the House is not amenable to judicial review. Under Article 32 we are not sitting here to decide political issues,” the bench said.

It added: “Once you (petitioner) say the ruling is not notified, it is not anywhere. Can correctness of such an order by Speaker to be judicially reviewed? We cannot issue any directives on it.” The bench, also comprising Justices Kurian Joseph and R F Nariman, refused to entertain an argument that the ruling required to be quashed since Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi has given his opinion to the government that Mavalankar’s rule prescribed the correct procedure and it should be used to deny the Congress an LOp status.

Petitioner M L Sharma had claimed that Mavalankar’s ruling was not the correct order since it was not notified and gazetted. He submitted that the question of the Leader of Opposition is to be read with the provision of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977.

“Section 2 of the 1977 Act defines the LOp of each House as the leader in that House of the party in opposition to the government having the greatest numerical strength. Therefore, a person who is the leader of the greatest numerical strength is to be declared as a Leader of Opposition,” the petition says.

The Congress has based its claim for the LOp post on the law relating to the 1977 Act and the rules thereunder. This Act provides that the largest opposition party would get the post.

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