The Manipur High Court Monday barred seven Congress MLAs who had defected to the BJP in 2017 from entering the Assembly until the petitions pertaining to disqualification against them are disposed of finally by the Speaker’s Tribunal.
The interim order was passed by a single bench of Justice K Nobin Singh while invoking Article 226 of the Constitution of India.
The seven MLAs who have been barred from the Assembly are Sanasam Bira, Ginsuanhau, Oinam Lukhoi, Ngamthang Haokip, Yengkhom Surchandra, Kshetrimayum Bira, and Paonam Brojen.
Justice Nobin Singh passed the order based on the recent direction passed by the Supreme Court that restrained Thounaojam Shyamkumar, who had defected to the BJP from the Congress, from entering the Assembly pending decision on application seeking his disqualification on the ground of defection.
The restraining order followed after Speaker’s failure to abide by the time limit earlier fixed by it in January. Subsequently, the Speaker disqualified Shyamkumar under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution.
Justice Nobin Singh observed that the circumstances in the present petitions were identical to Shyamkumar’s case.
The single bench observed that the term of Manipur Legislative Assembly will come to an end in less than two years. It further pointed out that if the Speaker Tribunal fails to decide the petitions at earliest possible, the term may come to an end earlier than the disposal of the petitions and the petitions will be rendered infructuous and the purpose of filing will stand defeated.
The order said inaction on the part of the Speaker for disposal of the petitions within a reasonable time has allowed the continuance of the alleged fraction of the provisions of the Tenth Schedule by the private respondents.
“Had any decision been taken by the Speaker on the petitions within a reasonable time, the controversy could have been obviated at the right time and undesirable interference by the Court would have not arisen at all. The Speaker can be solely responsible for it”, said the Judge in the order.
“In such an eventuality, the question that arises is as to what will happen to the salary already drawn by the MLA from the day on which the reasonable time has lapsed and if not recovered from him, it will insure a loss to public exchequer. In order to prevent such an eventuality, the petition for disqualification needs to be decided by the Speaker at the earliest possible or within three months as has now been fixed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court”, the Court observed.
As per the petitioners counsel, the present cases were filed on November 8, 2018. However, despite notices being issued and a number of opportunities granted to the respondents, the response came very late, on February 3, 2020. As such, a miscellaneous petition has also been filed by Congress MLAs claiming that the respondents are buying time for Rajya Sabha election.
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