The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that the governor of Manipur cannot delay in deciding on the opinion given by the Election Commission of India regarding the disqualification of 12 Bharatiya Janata Party MLAs, reported Live Law.
La Ganesan currently serves as the governor of the post. Before him, two other governors have held the post since the Election Commission gave its opinion on the matter in January.
The BJP MLAs from Manipur are facing disqualification for holding the position of parliamentary secretaries in a 2018 office-of-profit case. The Election Commission had not found the MLAs in violation as they held the posts under an exemption granted by two laws, unidentified officials had told The Print.
The Manipur High Court had struck down the two laws in September last year.
After this, the state unit of the Congress had approached the then Governor Najma Heptulla, seeking the disqualification of the MLAs, reported PTI. Heptulla had sought the poll panel’s opinion on the matter in October last year.
The state Assembly elections likely to be held in March.
During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, representing Congress leader DD Thaisii who is the petitioner in the case seeking the disqualification of the BJP MLAs, submitted before the court that the governor cannot keep his decision pending.
“The Constitutional authority [governor] bound by the Election Commission cannot say that he will not convey the opinion,” Sibal said. “If he’s not conveying, he’s not discharging his constitutional obligation.”
The court agreed with Sibal’s submission.
Senior Advocate Rajeev Dhavan, appearing for one of the BJP MLAs, cited Article 192 of the Constitution of India to say that the opinion of the Election Commission was binding on the governor.
Justice Rao, however, disagreed, saying that there have been instances when the court had told the governor to make time-bound decisions.
The counsel for the state government then sought adjournment in the case, saying that Solicitor General Tushar Mehta was appearing before another bench.
Although the court expressed displeasure at the submission, it adjourned the matter for Thursday after Mehta did not show up even when the matter was postponed for later in the day.
The bench also issued a notice to the secretary of the governor on an application filed by the Thaisii seeking the governor’s decision on the matter.