Published On: Tue, Jan 11th, 2022
Top News | ByIANS

‘Worse than expulsion’: SC on Maha BJP MLAs’ one year suspension

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday orally observed that suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from Maharashtra Assembly in July, for a year, for misbehaving with the presiding officer in the chair, both inside and outside the Assembly, was “worse than expulsion”.

The top court had issued notice to the Maharashtra Assembly through its Secretary

A bench, headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar was hearing a petition filed by MLAs challenging their suspension. On December 14, last year, the top court had issued notice to the Maharashtra Assembly through its Secretary.

The bench, also comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Rajkumar, expressed an inclination to interfere with the resolution passed by the Assembly suspending the BJP MLAs, on July 5, last year.

During the hearing, the bench orally observed that the suspension for one year was “worse than expulsion” as the constituency would remain unrepresented in the House. It added that one-year suspension will amount to a punishment on the constituency of these elected representatives. Citing constitutional provisions, the bench said a constituency cannot go unrepresented for beyond six months.

Citing relevant rules, the top court pointed out that the Assembly lacks power to suspend a member beyond 60 days. It referred to Article 190(4) of the Constitution which says a seat will be deemed to have become vacant if a member remains absent in the House without its permission for a period of 60 days.

A battery of senior advocates — Mahesh Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Siddharth Bhatnagar – argued for the suspended legislators. They were assisted by advocates Siddharth Dharmadhikari and Abhikalp Pratap Singh.

Jethmalani argued that Rajya Sabha recently suspended 12 members for disorderly behaviour, and the suspension was operated only for the duration of the session. It was argued in the top court that the principle of natural justice was violated by the House by suspending MLAs for a year. One of the lawyers argued that the suspension cannot exceed 6 months and it allows the government to manipulate the strength in the House to secure majority votes on important matters.

The 12 suspended members are Sanjay Kute, Ashish Shelar, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Parag Alavani, Harish Pimpale, Yogesh Sagar, Jay Kumar Rawat, Narayan Kuche, Ram Satpute, and Bunty Bhangdia. The MLAs have termed their suspension as politically motivated to whittle down the number of the opposition party

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