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Current Affairs

MLA suspension

Date: 17 January 2022 Tags: Judiciary & Judgments

Issue

Suspending MLAs for a whole year in Maharashtra has been declared as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

 

Background

The court observed that suspending for a year was worse than expulsion. It had created constitutional void in those constituencies.

 

Details

  • During Monsoon session of Maharashtra assembly, Leader of Opposition in Assembly opposed to a resolution tabled by a minister demanding that Centre release data on Other Backward Classes (OBCs).

  • The opposition MLAs entered the well, uprooted mics and created commotion. There was also allegation that some of them entered the chamber of speaker and threatened him.

  • The issue of OBC data is very controversial and centre has refused to release the data collected during the Socio-Economic Caste Census (SECC) of 2011, citing error.

  • After suspension resolution, the MLAs filed a writ petition in the Supreme Court against Maharashtra Legislative Assembly and the State of Maharashtra.

 

The arguments of MLAs

  • They have challenged the order on the grounds of principles of natural justice, and of violation of laid-down procedure.

  • They were not given fair opportunity to present their case and it violated their fundamental right to equality before law under Article 14 of the Constitution. 

  • They also say that under Rule 53 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules, only the speaker has powers to suspend MLAs and this cannot be put to vote through resolution.

 

Maharashtra’s defence

  • The government argues that the House had acted within its legislative competence, and the courts do not have jurisdiction to inquire into the proceedings of the legislature.

  • It also says that members violating their privileges can be suspended by a state’s legislature under Article 194.

 

Suspension durations

The maximum suspension as per the Rules of Lok Sabha, Rajya Sabha or State Assemblies is “for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less”.

 

Way ahead

The Supreme Court is soon expected to rule on the question of whether the judiciary can intervene in the proceedings of the House.