Supreme Court emphasises role of LoP; Congress renews claim

Supreme Court emphasises role of LoP; Congress renews claim

The Congress’s campaign for the Leader of the Opposition (LoP)  post  in the Lok Sabha got a fresh lease of life after the Supreme Court stressed its importance, saying the post represented a voice different from that of the government in the lower house.

Though Chief Justice of India R M Lodha’s comments were made in the context of the committee for selection of the Lokpal, the Congress seized the opportunity to renew its attack on Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, who had rejected their appeal for recognising Mallikarjun Kharge as the LoP in the Lok Sabha.

“The Supreme Court observation has actually vindicated what the Congress and the UPA have been saying throughout. The decision of the Speaker was in utter disregard to law and appears to be clearly influenced and coloured by the partisan agenda of the BJP-led government,” AICC spokesman Anand Sharma told reporters here.

The fresh attacks on the Speaker prompted the BJP to recount that on seven occasions during the Congress rule, there was no Leader of the Opposition in the Lok Sabha.

Mahajan had said she strictly went by the rule book while denying the post to the Congress.

The Congress has 44 seats in the Lok Sabha, 11 less than what is required for it to be recognised as a parliamentary party in the Lower House. This is as per the general directions of the Speaker, which form part of the Rules of Procedure of the Lok Sabha.

However, the Congress contended that a separate law which decides the salaries and perks of the Leader of the Opposition does not mention the minimum numbers a party should have in the Lok Sabha to get the post.

“No ruling and observation of Speakers can override a law of Parliament and the law has it that the single largest Opposition party does not require any specific number in the Lok Sabha to claim the LoP status. It was the right of the Congress party,” Sharma said.

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