House can’t droop member for greater than 59 days, says Supreme Court

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Underlining that Legislative Assemblies need to operate inside the Constitution, the Supreme Court on Tuesday noticed that the choice to droop 12 BJP MLAs from Maharashtra Assembly for one 12 months is prima facie unconstitutional, as there’s a constitutional bar to it working past six months.

Hearing a plea by the MLAs difficult their suspension, a bench of Justices A M Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and C T Ravikumar identified that there’s a statutory requirement to fill a seat inside six months of it falling vacant.

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The bench termed the move towards the MLAs as “worse than expulsion”.

“You can’t create a constitutional void, a hiatus situation for the constituency….. Each constituency has an equal amount of right to be represented in the House,” the court docket mentioned.

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The court docket mentioned whereas the House has energy to droop a member, it can’t be for greater than 59 days. It identified that below Article 190(4) of the Constitution, if a member of a House is absent from all conferences with out its permission for a interval of 60 days, the House might declare the seat vacant.

“It becomes unconstitutional if you suspend someone for more than that. This will create a lot of problems….without motion you can suspend,” Justice Khanwilkar mentioned.

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“How long a seat can remain vacant is 60 days…at the most six months outer limit,” Justice Maheshwari famous. “Here we are talking about a constituency being represented in a Parliamentary form of democracy…. Is this not hitting the basic structure of the Constitution when the 12 constituencies are unrepresented?”

“Now it is 12; tomorrow it will be 120. It’s a dangerous argument. Absolute power does not mean unbridled. This is a serious issue,” Justice Khanwilkar added.

The bench mentioned it’s going to settle for the arguments of the petitioner’s counsel, senior advocate Siddharth Bhatnagar, that the “decision is worse than expulsion”. It remarked that the “consequences are dreadful”, as “none can represent these constituencies” within the absence of the elected MLAs.

The “House has authority to suspend…but not beyond 59 days. The House is also governed by the Constitution and fundamental rights,” the bench mentioned. It added that going past the interval permitted is “not punishing the member but punishing the constituency as a whole”.

Adjourning the listening to, the court docket mentioned it’s going to move a quick order quickly.

The 12 MLAs — 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 — had been suspended on July 5 final 12 months after the state authorities accused them of “misbehaving” with the presiding officer, Bhaskar Jadhav, within the Speaker’s chamber.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, additionally representing the petitioners, pointed to the suspension of 12 Rajya Sabha MPs and mentioned it was just for the rest of the session. There is the constituency and constituent rights as effectively, he mentioned.

Appearing for the state of Maharashtra, senior advocate Arayama Sundaram mentioned the House was performing inside its legislative competence and that legislature will not be topic to jurisdiction of the courts with regards to procedural irregularities. The bench didn’t appear to agree.

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