The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Mumbai signal for Lucknow

New Delhi, Nov. 1: The Supreme Court today stayed the disqualification of seven Maharashtra legislators — a decision that might have an impact on Uttar Pradesh.

Five MLAs of the Nationalist Congress Party, one from the Janata Dal(S) and another legislator had written to Maharashtra Speaker Arun Gujarathi in early 2002 that they were withdrawing support to the state government. The legislators were, however, disqualified by the Speaker as they did not form the one-third required for a formal split. The MLAs were thus open to disqualification under the anti-defection law under the tenth schedule of the Constitution.

Bombay High Court had also upheld their disqualification. The Supreme Court has, however, given an interim stay on the high court order on an appeal by the legislators.

But the stay of the apex court is procedural, explained legal sources. They pointed out that, in such cases, initially a stay is normally granted before the cases come up for further hearing.

“What is material here is that a group of legislators of a party, numbering less than one-third, have withdrawn support to the government, and the Speaker’s ruling disqualifying them has been upheld by the high court,” the sources said. “This case would have a bearing on the Uttar Pradesh situation today, where 12 MLAs have met the Governor to state that they no more support the Mayavati-led BSP-BJP coalition government.”

In the Maharashtra case, the legislators were disqualified by the Speaker after they wrote to the Governor that they had withdrawn support to the NCP-Congress coalition government.

A bench of Chief Justice B.N. Kirpal, Justices Y.K. Sabharwal and Arijit Passayat stayed this disqualification and issued notices to the Speaker.

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