The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why courts should decide the disqualification of an MLA on grounds of defection when the Constitution has given the power to the Assembly Speaker, reported PTI. The court was hearing a plea filed by Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam leader R Sakkarapani challenging a Madras High Court verdict.
“When the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution confers the power of disqualification on the Speaker, then why should the court assume this power?” asked a bench of Justices SA Bobde, R Subhash Reddy and BR Gavai.
Sakkarapani’s plea seeking disqualification of 11 All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam MLAs, including Tamil Nadu Deputy Chief Minister O Panneerselvam, was dismissed by the Madras High Court in April 2018. The High Court had rejected the petition citing pendency of a plea in the Supreme Court on the powers of a court to issue directions to the Speaker.
Arguing for the petitioner in the Supreme Court on Tuesday, senior counsel Kapil Sibal said the court should intervene if the Assembly Speaker fails to decide on the disqualification. “Assuming that the Speaker will not decide on disqualification for five years, will the court become powerless?” he asked the bench.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, who appeared for the Speaker, said Sakkarapani’s only prayer in the High Court was to issue a direction to the Speaker to decide on the disqualifications, reported The Hindu.
The Supreme Court said it will hear the matter again on August 20.
The Supreme Court’s observations came a day after the court said it would hear a plea filed by two rebel Karnataka Congress MLAs against Speaker KR Ramesh Kumar’s decision to disqualify them from the Assembly. The MLAs – Ramesh Jharkhiholi and Mahesh Kumathalli – were disqualified by the Speaker on July 25. They sought directions from the top court to quash the Speaker’s decision to disqualify them from the House. Jharkhiholi and Kumathalli termed the Speaker’s decision as “arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution which relates to fundamental rights”. They said it violated their Constitutional right under Article 190. Kumar has resigned from his post since.