The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Fear of axe drives trio to SC

New Delhi/Ranchi, Sept. 8: Amid the bitter power struggle in Jharkhand, three MLAs supporting the UPA today moved the Supreme Court with a request to restrain the Speaker from acting on applications seeking their disqualification from the Assembly until next week’s confidence vote.

Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari had issued the disqualification notices to Anosh Ekka (Jharkhand Party), Stephen Marandi (Independent) and Kamlesh Singh (NCP) on September 6. The move had come a day after Ekka and Singh, along with Madhu Koda and Harinarayan Rai, quit as ministers and withdrew support to the Arjun Munda government, reducing it to a minority.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal will hear the petitions on Monday, the day Namdhari has directed the trio to appear before him in Ranchi.

Apprehending an adverse order, the MLAs said that since the governor had ordered a floor test on or before September 15, it was necessary to maintain status quo on the number of members in the House.

“The reason behind the issuance of notice at this stage, after the resignation and withdrawal of support by ministers and before the floor test, is to reduce the strength of the UPA, which, in all likelihood, will stake its claim to form the government,” they alleged in the petition.

The petitions contended that it was necessary for the court to intervene in the matter as the Speaker was acting as an “agent” of the NDA.

The Speaker, however, has exclusive jurisdiction to decide on applications for disqualification under the anti-defection law. The Tenth Schedule of the Constitution lays down that his decision “shall be final” and no court “shall have any jurisdiction” in the matter.

Generally, courts entertain such pleas only after the Speaker has taken a decision. But in exceptional circumstances, the apex court can prevent any “miscarriage of justice”.

The petition by Marandi and Singh was filed by advocate K.V. Vishwanathan.

Ekka moved a separate petition through lawyer Alok Kumar Singh.

Vishwanathan said adequate security should be provided to the legislators to ensure that they can attend the Assembly without any hindrance during the floor test.

He alleged that there was a threat to the lives of the MLAs and pointed to the attack on Ekka at the Ranchi airport on September 5.

When the bench asked him why the legislators have not approached Jharkhand High Court, he said: “They have come here since there was a serious threat to security in Ranchi.”

Namdhari expressed surprise at the controversy surrounding his decision. “I have not delivered any judgment. I have simply issued notices against them,” he said.


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