‘Decision Danger To Democracy’: SC Grills Maha On 12 BJP MLAs Suspension
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday continued to grill the Maharashtra government on the resolution passed by the state Assembly on July 5, 2021 to suspend 12 BJP MLAs for a period of one year for their alleged misconduct and misbehaviour in the House.
A bench, headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and comprising Justices Dinesh Maheshwari and C.T. Ravikumar, shot a volley of questions at senior advocate C.A. Sundaram, on the rationality of suspending the MLAs beyond the session of the House, as he argued regarding the limited scope for judicial review over the business within the Assembly.
Justice Khanwilkar told Sundaram that the suspension of the MLAs should not be greater than the session of the House, and anything other than this would be irrational. “Your decision of 1 year is irrational because of the deprivation of the constituency being unrepresented for more than 6 months…,” noted the bench.
Justice Ravikumar said: “Another is danger to democracy…..Suppose there is a slender lead of the ruling party (in the Assembly), and 15 or 20 people are suspended, what will be the fate of democracy?”
The bench queried Sundaram: “suspension up to what period and for what purpose?”
Justice Maheshwari said the House meets in sessions and the rationale is, when a new session begins, new business begins. “A particular session, he may be suspended but beyond that time, the rationality question comes”.
The bench remarked that with a change of session, there is a completely new session and even if the action is punitive, it is for the whole session and not beyond the session. It emphasised that the constituency of the elected representative cannot be left unrepresented for a long time.
The top court made these observations while hearing the petition filed by MLAs challenging their suspension.
It will continue to hear the arguments on Wednesday.
On January 11, the court observed that suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from Maharashtra Assembly in July, for a year, for misbehaving with the presiding officer in chair, both inside and outside the Assembly, was “worse than expulsion”.
A battery of senior advocates — Mahesh Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Siddharth Bhatnagar — argued for the suspended legislators, and were assisted by advocates Siddharth Dharmadhikari and Abhikalp Pratap Singh.
“The impugned resolution has been passed in abject violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India in as much as no opportunity of hearing or at least furnishing their written explanation was given to the petitioners. Further, a perusal of the impugned resolution shows that there has been utter non-application of mind in as much there was no material available for identifying the 12 MLAs from a large crowd of people,” said the plea, filed through Singh.
It urged the top court to pass direction to quash the resolution for their suspension.