New Delhi, Jan. 16 (PTI): The Supreme Court today decided to examine the powers of the Lok Sabha to sack its members and referred the matter to a Constitution bench.
Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal and Justices C.K. Thakker and R.V. Ravindran said a petition filed by expelled BSP member Raja Ram Pal had raised an “important question” on the powers and privileges of MPs.
Pal is among the 10 Lok Sabha members who were expelled in the wake of the “cash-for-query” scam.
A Rajya Sabha member has also been expelled.
“The petition by Pal raises (an) important constitutional question, in particular to Article 105 of the Constitution. The question is whether the powers or provisions in Article 105 include the power or not to expel the MP from the membership of Parliament,” the judges said.
The court issued notices to the Speaker, the government, the Election Commission and attorney-general Milon K. Banerji to help it adjudicate the matter.
The apex court’s move has come days after Speaker Somnath Chatterjee decided not to reply to the notices that Delhi High Court sent to the Speaker, the chairman of the Rajya Sabha and the Centre after eight of the expelled 11 filed a petition.
Chatterjee believes the House and its decision are sovereign and the court has no jurisdiction in the matter.
The apex court, however, refused to grant Pal any relief on his plea that the Election Commission be stopped from conducting polls in Bilhour, the constituency in Uttar Pradesh from where he was elected before his expulsion.
The bench made it clear the court would not go into the merits of the case and was only examining the constitutional questions arising from the petition.
Pal’s counsel K.S. Chauhan said the Lok Sabha was not competent to expel members as Parliament has not enacted a law that provides for expulsion of an MP in specified circumstances.
The counsel said MPs have powers and privileges under Article 105 and that articles 101, 102 and 103 make it clear how a seat could be vacated.
A parliamentary panel today began probing the sting operation that showed MPs accepting or demanding bribes to sanction projects under the member of Parliament local area development scheme and decided to call the editor of the TV channel on January 25.
The P.K. Bansal committee has decided to view the footage, sources said.