'Unconstitutional, arbitrary': SC sets aside suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from Maha Assembly (Ld)

by IANS |

New Delhi, Jan 28 (IANS) Terming it unconstitutional and arbitrary, the Supreme Court on Friday set aside the year-long suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Assembly.

A bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said the suspension could have only been for a session of the House. It further added that the resolution for suspending the 12 BJP MLAs for a year was illegal and declared it ineffective.

On January 19, the top court reserved the verdict on petitions challenging the one-year suspension of the 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for their alleged misconduct and misbehaviour in the House in July, last year.

A battery of senior advocates -- Mahesh Jethmalani, Mukul Rohatgi, Neeraj Kishan Kaul, and Siddharth Bhatnagar -- argued for the suspended legislators. The senior advocates were assisted by advocates Siddharth Dharmadhikari and Abhikalp Pratap Singh.

Senior advocate C.A. Sundaram, representing the Maharashtra government, argued the act of suspending a member from the Legislative Assembly for one year is not barred by the Constitution. The petitioners' counsel contended that merely exercising inherent power can the House act contrary to the constitution, and no preliminary power can go beyond the Constitution or fundamental rights.

The petitioners argued that there was no justification of suspension, which affects the right of the constituency. Rohatgi emphasized that the decision of 1-year suspension is grossly irrational, as there was non-compliance with natural justice.

During the hearing, the top court had observed that the suspension of 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Assembly in July, for a year, for misbehaving with the presiding officer in chair, both inside and outside the Assembly, was "worse than expulsion".

The suspensions came after the legislators had misbehaved with the then Speaker-in-Chair, Bhaskar Jadhav for refusing them sufficient time to speak.

The suspended BJP legislators include -- Ashish Shelar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkalkar, Jaykumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Narayan Kuch, Abhimanyu Pawar, Sanjay Kute, Ram Satpute, Parag Alvani, Kirtikumar Bhangadiya and Harish Pimpale.

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