Why should the court assume Speaker's power: SC

The Supreme court. Reuters file photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked why it should assume the role of Speaker on a plea made by the DMK to disqualify the Tamil Nadu's Deputy CM O Panneerselvam and 10 other AIADMK MLAs for voting against the confidence motion moved by Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami in February 2017.

“When the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law) of the Constitution confers the power of disqualification on the Speaker, why should the court assume this power? Why should the court assume the power of the Speaker for something which happens inside the House,” a three-judge bench presided over by Justice S A Bobde asked senior advocate Kapil Sibal.

Sibal was arguing on behalf of DMK leader R Sakkarapani against the Madras High Court's judgement of April 2018, which had said it cannot encroach upon the powers of the Speaker under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution on a writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution.

The counsel contended that if the Speaker has given up his duty and did not even issue a notice for two years on disqualification petition under the Tenth Schedule, the court should now take over.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, for the Speaker, contended that the original plea before the high court was to issue a mandamus to the Speaker to decide the disqualification of the MLAs which was eventually abandoned. He said subsequently an amended application was filed but it was never allowed by the high court.

On this, the bench, also comprising Justices R Subhash Reddy and B R Gavai, observed, “We have serious reservations the way the proceedings have gone. We are taken aback the way it was proceeded about.”

The court then said it can examine what the effect of the court proceeding would be in a matter where the amendment to the writ petition was not allowed.

The court, during the hearing, also proposed to Sibal to get clarification from the high court on the question of amendment to writ petition. To this, Sibal said then the high court must be set aside. This contention was strongly opposed by Rohatgi.

The court put the matter for further consideration on August 20.

Meanwhile, the apex court permitted three AIADMK MLAs to withdraw their challenge against proceedings initiated by Speaker for their disqualification for "anti-party activities" by supporting rival T TV Dhinakaran on the ground that they have returned to the AIADMK fold and the petition was infructuous.

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