Hyderabad HC sets aside expulsion of Congress MLA Komatireddy, Sampath from Telangana Assembly

The two MLAs were earlier expelled from the House by passing a resolution for throwing headphone at the Governor who was addressing the Budget session of Assembly and Council on March 12.
Hyderabad High Court. (File photo)
Hyderabad High Court. (File photo)

HYDERABAD: In a setback to the Telangana State Legislature, the Hyderabad High Court on Tuesday set aside the expulsion of two Congress MLAs Komatireddy Venkat Reddy and SA Sampath Kumar and also the gazette notification issued by the Telangana government notifying vacancy for Nalgonda and Alampur (SC) Assembly constituencies. The court pointed out that there was a clear violation of principles of natural justice and fundamental rights in the manner in which the two MLAs were expelled.

Agreeing with the petitioner's submissions, the Court observed that it was ``crystal clear that the petitioners were neither given notice or opportunity to explain nor supplied any documents or other material including the motion moved for expulsion and the discussion undertaken, if any, on March 13, 2018 and as to on what material facts and with what proof with reference to the alleged happenings on March 12 much less by supply of the original video footages of both days despite sought for by the petitioners.''

Justice B Siva Sankara Rao of the Hyderabad High Court, who delivered the verdict, noted that Courts perform a Constitutional function of examining the validity of legislature action because they are vested with that power, and not because they claim supremacy over the legislature.

Referring to the Judicial interpretations on the issue of breach of privileges versus the fundamental rights of the violators and the power of Judicial-review and what the Supreme Court Constitution Bench held in Keshav Singh case, the judge said that the Court will have the power of Judicial review.

The two MLAs were earlier expelled from the House by passing a resolution for throwing headphone at the Governor who was addressing the Budget session of Assembly and Council on March 12. The headphone hit Council chairman K Swamy Goud, who suffered an injury on the eye.

Challenging the expulsion the two MLAs approached the High Court.

Relying upon the Supreme Court judgments in State of Kerala vs NM Thomas and other cases, the Judge granted relief to the two MLAs and made it clear that the said order (setting aside the expulsion) results in automatic restoration and revival of the petitioners' membership in the Legislative Assembly for their continuation for the remaining tenure as duly elected MLAs for all purposes.

However, on the allegation that the petitioners have caused injury to the council chairman, the judge made it clear that his order would not come in the way if the authorities concerned wants to initiate criminal action against the petitioners with regard to the incident (of causing injury to Swamy Goud).

The judge, in his 172-pages judgment, said "that the Constitution has devised a structure of power relationship, with checks and balances; and limits are placed on the powers of every authority or instrumentality under the Constitution. Every organ of the State, be it the Executive or the Legislature or the Judiciary, derives its authority from the Constitution and it has to act within the limits of such authority. Parliament too, is a creature of the Constitution and it can only have such powers as are given to it under the Constitution."


Court asks for video footage

It may be recalled that the Court had earlier directed the Assembly secretary to submit original video footage in a sealed cover by March 22 regarding the alleged throwing of earphone at the Council chairman on March 12 during the Governor's address to the joint session of Assembly and Council. Besides, the court directed the secretary to law and legislative affairs of Telangana, Assembly secretary and secretary to Election Commission to file their counter affidavits in a week on the issue. The court recorded the undertaking given by the then AG D Prakash Reddy for submitting video footage recording in original. Following resignation of the AG, the state additional advocate general J Ramachandra Rao later submitted to the court that the video footage of the House proceedings concerned cannot be placed before the court as no resolution was passed in the House which was adjourned sine die. The AAG said that he was appearing for the state government only. No counsel represented the Assembly Secretary in the case. The court made it clear that if no video footage was submitted to the court then it would draw negative inferences upon the government.


"It is needless to say whenever the power was exercised arbitrarily, malafide or in absolute disregard of the finer canons of the Constitutionalism, by whomsoever it might be including one of the important wings that is the Legislature in the claim of its powers and privileges including under Article 194(3) of the Constitution, the by-product order of expulsion and the consequential notification of vacancy thereby cannot get the approval of law and in for the Judicial hand must be and constrained to be stretched to it", the judge noted.

The judge further said that the nine judge Constitution bench of the Apex Court, in the case of State of Kerala vs NM Thomas, has very clearly held that the Court like any of the other two wings was also 'State' within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. Thus, Court could also act as Parens-Patria (Parent of his or her country. The ability and authority of the state to act as a guardian for those unable to care for themselves), so as to meet the ends of justice.

"There can be no doubt that if the state action in a particular case amounts to an arbitrary classification or a hostile discrimination which is violative of the fundamental rights including under Articles 14 or 16 or 21 of the Constitution, the Court is there to act as sentinel (guard) on the qui vive (alert) in order to strike down or set aside such an action. Needless to say the violation of principles of natural justice elevated to the violation of the fundamental rights from lack of opportunity and hearing and non-supply of the material which is the basis for action by the quasi-judicial action of the State Legislature to strike down the same as held in Alagapuram R. Mohanraj case,'' the judge observed.

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