|Jharkhand Pradesh Mahila Congress Committee members stage a dharna outside the Assembly. Picture by Prashant Mitra
Sept. 11: Giving a free hand to the Jharkhand Speaker who has served disqualification notices on three MLAs, the Supreme Court today did not pass any order on their petitions seeking to restrain Inder Singh Namdhari from acting on the applications till the trust vote in the Assembly.
Apprehending an adverse order by the Speaker to prevent them from voting during the proposed floor test on or before September 15, the MLAs — Anosh Ekka (Jharkhand Party), Stephen Marandi (Independent) and Kamlesh Singh (NCP) — had sought an intervention by the apex court.
The division bench headed by Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, however, decided against intervening in the political struggle at the moment, but kept the matter alive by adjourning the hearing to September 14 (Thursday).
In Ranchi, Namdhari acted swiftly and said he would hear the cases on September 13, a day before the Arjun Munda government faces the confidence motion. The Speaker, who has in the past made scathing remarks about the judiciary for “interfering” in legislative matters, hailed the Supreme Court for “upholding the dignity and autonomy of the legislature”.
Namdhari said each of the three MLAs would be given a two-hour slot to argue their case. The hearing will begin at 10 in the morning and continue till 4 pm.
With their petitions pending, the MLAs can approach the court for a stay on the Speaker’s order if they are disqualified before the floor test.
The apex court, which heard the matter for about an hour, observed it would not be proper to intervene before the Speaker took a decision.
Earlier, senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for Stephen Marandi, said the sequence of events leading to the issue of a disqualification notice pointed to the malafide intention of the Speaker.
The notice was issued only after the governor ordered a floor test, he said.
Venugopal said his client was sought to be disqualified on the ground that he had joined a political outfit — Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Democratic) — after being elected as an Independent candidate. JVM was not a political party under the Representation of People’s Act but a social organisation, the lawyer argued, adding that even if it was a political party, Stephen had not joined it, but had founded it.
Opposing the petitions, Fali S. Nariman said the MLAs, instead of filing a response to the notice, wanted the Supreme Court to act as a tribunal to adjudicate on the action of the Speaker.
Stephen welcomed the decision of the court to hear the matter again on Thursday. “It would be difficult for the Speaker to victimise us as we are sure that the court would give us justice,” he said.
Kamlesh echoed him, but Ekka appeared diffident.
“I am busy in a meeting,” he said.