Supreme Court sets aside one-year suspension of 12 Maharashtra BJP legislators

Terming the suspension of legislators arbitrary, apex court says the action against MLAs was beyond the Assembly’s powers.
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)
Supreme Court (Photo | EPS)

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the one-year suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Assembly and said this could only have been in place for the monsoon session in July 2021. The court also termed the suspension unconstitutional and arbitrary.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice A M Khanwilkar said, “We have no hesitation in allowing these petitions. The resolutions are malicious in the eyes of law, unconstitutional, illegal, and declared to be ineffective in law. As a result of the stated declaration, petitioners are declared to be entitled to the benefits of Members of Legislative Assembly.”

The 12 BJP MLAs were suspended from the Maharashtra Assembly for a year after the state government accused them of misbehaving with Presiding Officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker’s chamber on the first day of the monsoon session, on July 5, 2021.

Allowing the petitions of the MLAs, the court said the resolutions passed by the Maharashtra Assembly were beyond its powers. “Suspension is essentially a disciplinary measure. It must follow that suspension for a period of one year would assume the character of punitive and punishment worse than expulsion.

For, suspension for long period and beyond the session has the effect of creating a de facto vacancy though not a de jure vacancy,” the order stated. “Suspension beyond the session would be bordering on punishing not only the member concerned, but also inevitably impact the legitimate rights of the constituency from where the member had been elected.”

The court also appeals for constructive, intelligent debates instead of brinkmanship and said, “The Parliament/Legislative Assembly are becoming more and more intransigent place. The philosophical tenet, one must agree to disagree is becoming a seldom scene or a rarity during the debates.

It has become common to hear that the House could not complete its usual scheduled business and most of the time had been spent in jeering and personal attacks against each other instead of erudite constructive and educative debates consistent with the highest tradition of the august body.” The court said there should nolt be aggression during debates in such Houses and that matters should be settled in a more amicable manner.

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The New Indian Express