Ranchi, Aug. 13: Jharkhand High Court today issued notices to five Independent ministers asking them to explain their stand in a public interest litigation (PIL) filed to disqualify them under the anti-defection law.
A division bench comprising Justice M.Y. Eqbal and Jaya Roy directed the notices to be issued to ministers Stephen Marandi, Anosh Ekka, Chandra Prakash Choudhary, Bhanu Pratap Sahi and Kamlesh Singh.
All the ministers, part of the Madhu Koda government, will have to represent themselves and explain whether their membership in the Assembly is legal and justified.
These Independent ministers, who hold different portfolios, allegedly shifted from their respective political party to join the former Arjun Munda government.
The petitions were filed with the Speaker in March 2005 against Anosh Ekka while it was in September 2006 against Stephen Marandi and Kamlesh Singh. Again, petitions were filed against Sahi in March 2007 and September 2007 against Chandra Prakash Chaudhary.
While Ekka (Jharkhand Party), Singh (NCP), Sahi (Forward Bloc) and Chaudhary (AJSU) were charged with violating the whip of their respective party leadership, Marandi was in the dock for joining a political party floated by Babulal Marandi though he had fought elections as an Independent candidate.
Petitioners Kusheshwar Singh and Mukesh Singh said the ministers violated the conditions and provisions under the tenth schedule of the Constitution that bans defection from political parties.
After winning the elections, five respective candidates went against the wishes of their political parties to join the Arjun Munda team to form an NDA alliance government.
A petition was filed against the ministers before the then Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari. The cases are lying pending before the present Speaker Alamgir Alam, who has not taken a decision yet.