Cuttack, Oct. 2: Former Speaker Sarat Kar scored a legal victory this week when Orissa High Court allowed his petition challenging the governments authority to appoint a judicial commission to probe into irregularities in the Assembly.
The win could signal the end of a 20-month battle between the former Speaker and the government.
In September 2004, the Naveen Patnaik government had appointed a judicial commission, headed by retired high court Justice C.R. Pal, to inquire into alleged irregularities concerning official appointments, purchase of computers and installation of Attendance Access Control System in the Assembly.
Twenty-eight months later, in February 2007, the high court took up the hearing of the writ petition issued by the former Speaker and ordered a stay on the commission proceedings.
During the hearing, the former Speaker raised questions on the governments jurisdiction to appoint a judicial commission under the Commission of Inquiry Act to probe into administrative acts carried out by the legislature officer, separated from the judiciary.
Advocate-general B.K. Mahanti in his counter arguments raised objections regarding the maintainability of the writ petition. The court bench ruled on the controversial matter after reserving judgment for months.
On September 30, the two judge bench of Justice I.M. Qudussi and Justice A.K. Parichha allowed the writ petition while ruling the appointment of the Judicial Commission as ultra vires and unconstitutional, Sarat Kar, while talking to The Telegraph today.
The court endorsed that the appointment of a commission undermined the Speakers authority. The Assembly secretariat enjoys privilege and immunity to a certain extent that was violated, Kar added.
Meanwhile, the government has reportedly spent nearly Rs 35 lakh on the commissions salary and other administrative charges over the past four years. The commission was appointed in September 2004 to submit its report within three months.