Days before the representation of Anglo-Indian community in Lok Sabha and 14 state Assemblies was to expire on January 25, the Congress government in Madhya Pradesh quickly moved files to enable nomination of an Anglo-Indian member to the Assembly, but Governor Lalji Tandon refused his assent.
The 126th Constitution (Amendment) Bill, passed by Parliament in December, extended the reservation for people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Lok Sabha and Assemblies, but discontinued representation of Anglo Indians.
The Kamal Nath government had recommended Jabalpur-based Denzil Paul for the reserved seat, but the Governor did not clear the file. Paul, president of Christian Education Society that runs educational institutions in Jabalpur, moved a petition in high court on January 7. The petition accused the state government and the Governor’s office of inaction. Arguing that all formalities had been completed, Paul sought the court’s direction to expedite the appointment process. The state government told the court that if the petitioner filed a fresh representation, it shall be decided expeditiously. Judge Subodh Abhyankar disposed of the petition on January 9, directing the petitioner to file a fresh representation and asking the state government and Governor’s office to take a final decision on or before January 20. On January 11, Paul made another representation and the government issued another recommendation letter.
Governor Tandon, however, gave a negative reply, saying the nomination has no justification. Quoting the 2011 Census, the governor said there are no Anglo-indians in the state. The representation to the community is expiring on January 25 and the Centre has not extended the date, he replied.
“The power of nomination rests with the governor. The state government was helpless after getting a negative reply,’’ a lawyer familiar with the case said. Paul has now moved another petition challenging the Governor’s opinion and arguing that contrary to the last Census figures, there are many Anglo-Indians in the state. The Cabinet yet again recommended Paul’s name on January 20.
Bid to make govt more stable
Paul told The Indian Express that government authorities had helped him file the petition. “I was confident to earn the nomination but the Governor’s office gave a negative reply,’’ he said.
The state legal department has said an Anglo-Indian member had been nominated to the last Assembly irrespective of the Census figures.
On January 17, the Assembly, while ratifying the Constitutional amendment, decided to request the Centre to extend representation of the Anglo-Indian member by another decade. The BJP members opposed the treasury benches’ decision.
Ironically, the state government showed similar urgency when the Assembly polls threw up a fractured mandate. On December 25, 2018, the government recommended Jennifer Messias nee Vyse for the Anglo-Indian seat. The MP chapter of Anglo-Indian Association opposed her nomination, stating that Vyse was not a member of the association and accusing her of other improprieties.
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