MLAs Disqualification Case: Speaker's Tribunal gives last opportunity to file comments

The Manipur Speaker Tribunal has fixed June 12 as last date for respondents to file comments in disqualification case of seven MLAs in the state

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The Manipur Speaker’s Tribunal on Saturday dismissed the miscellaneous application filed by seven defected Congress MLAs to reject disqualification cases against them as not maintainable under provision of Members of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection rules, 1986).

However, the Speaker’s Tribunal gave one last opportunity to respondents to file comments within June 12 in the defected Congress MLAs disqualification case. The Tribunal also put up the main matter of disqualification case and issued an order stating that failing to file comment on the matter will proceed without comment.

The Tribunal reserved the order on May 5 with a direction to the petitioners and respondents to submit a written argument on or before May 16. All disqualification cases filled their respective written argument on May 16. After perusal of the written argument, the Tribunal considered whether the disqualification cases are liable to be rejected as not maintainable on account of alleged non-compliance of the provision of the Member of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection) rule, 1986.

The Tribunal expressed satisfaction of the petitions application under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 and compiled rule No. 6 of Member of Manipur Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on ground of defection) rules, 1986. However, rules No 7(3)(b) prefer respondents to file written comments within seven days. But no respondent has chosen to file comments on a petition filed by the petitioners in spite of repeated opportunities granted to them.

In view of it, the Tribunal on Saturday gave last opportunity to respondents and the petitioners to file comments on or before June 16, and said further proceedings will continue on June 17.

Considering the rules of disqualification, the Speaker opined the case to be treated under rule 15 under order VI as directory in nature and non-compliance thereof would not automatically render the petitions as barred by the law. Respondents should consider in accordance with the law while considering the disqualification petition on merit.

Therefore, the Speaker’s Tribunal dismissed the miscellaneous application filed by respondents as no merit was found in the application.

It may be mentioned that the Congress had approached the Supreme Court for disqualification of the seven MLAs who helped the BJP, which was 10 short of majority in the 60-member Assembly, to form the government while continuing to be with the Congress.

Khemchand had, according to schedule, heard the cases of seven MLAs at the Speaker’s Tribunal formed under the 10th Schedule of the Constitution.

The apex court had in a judgment on January 21 asked the Speaker to take necessary action within the stipulated time.

On March 28, the Speaker had in deference to the court’s order disqualified former Forest Minister Thounaojam Shyamkumar who had “defected” to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The seven defected MLAs are Oinam Lukhoi Singh, Kshetrimayum Biren Singh, Paonam Brojen Singh, Sanasam Bira Singh, Ngamthang Haokip, Ginsuanhau and Yengkhom Surchandra Singh.

The Congress had won 28 seats while the BJP bagged 21 in 2017 Assembly elections. However, the BJP managed to form the government with the support of Shyamkumar and seven other Congress MLAs, apart from two regional parties.

Manipur Assembly Speaker Yumnam Khemchand on Friday reserved his decision on the disqualification of seven Congress MLAs who have been supporting the BJP-led coalition government in the state, in May.

First Published:June 6, 2020, 12:49 p.m.

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