The Supreme Court on Friday set aside the Maharashtra Assembly’s resolution to suspend 12 MLAs for alleged unruly behaviour, NDTV reported.

“Suspending the MLAs beyond the sessions is unconstitutional and illegal,” the court said.

A bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar made the statement while hearing the petition filed by 12 MLAs, Live Law reported.

“We allow these petitions,” the order stated, according to Bar and Bench. “Assembly resolutions are malicious in eyes of law, declared to be ineffective in law. The petitioners are now declared to be entitled to benefits of Members of Legislative Assembly.”

According to the rules, an MLA can be suspended for the sessions. However, the MLAs had been suspended for a year for allegedly abusing Maharashtra Assembly Speaker Bhaskar Jadhav during the Monsoon Session in July.

The Maharashtra government said it is waiting for the detailed Supreme Court order before deciding on the next step, according to The Indian Express. Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik said that the legislature secretariat will analyse the judgment, following which the Speaker will take a final decision.

“This decision was not made by the Maharashtra government but was made by the Maharashtra legislative Assembly,” Malik said.

During the previous hearing, the court had stated that the suspension could not last for more than six months according to the constitutional provisions, Bar and Bench reported. An MLA can be absent from his seat for a maximum of 60 days, after which the seat is deemed to be vacated.

It was pointed out that as per the Constitution, the explicit outer limit for an MLA to be absent from his seat is 60 days, after which the seat is deemed to be vacated.

The suspended MLAs were Sanjay Kute, Ashish Shelar, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkalkar, Parag Alavni, Harish Pimpale, Ram Satpute, Vijay Kumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Narayan Kuche and Kirtikumar Bangdia.

Chaos had erupted in the Maharashtra Assembly in July during the introduction of a resolution to seek data from the Centre on Other Backward Classes to provide them political reservation in local bodies in the state.

Opposition leaders claimed that they were not given enough time to speak about the resolution. The Speaker had adjourned the Assembly after an uproar. The MLAs then went to the Speaker’s cabin, where they allegedly abused and manhandled him.

The MLAs moved the Supreme Court later in July, alleging that suspending them was a “motivated attempt” to reduce Opposition numbers in the Maharashtra Assembly.

BJP members welcome ruling

Calling it a “historic” decision, Devendra Fadnavis, former chief minister and leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, said the Supreme Court ruling will “save democratic values” and is a rebuke to the Maharashtra government’s “undemocratic actions and activities”.

“It was not only a question of 12 MLAs but of more than 50 lakh citizens in these 12 constituencies,” Fadnavis wrote on Twitter.

Girish Mahajan, one of the suspended legislators, said the judgment is a “slap on the face of the Maharashtra Vikas Aghadi government”, The Indian Express reported.

“The suspension was an act of vendetta by the government,” Mahajan was quoted as saying. “They wanted to keep us away from the elections that were to be held for the Speaker’s post,” said Mahajan.

Mahajan added that the order suspending the legislators for a year was unjust as it meant that they could not have raised problems affecting their constituencies.