SC verdict on disqualified MLAs: A mixed bag for all

A.H. Vishwanath, disqualified MLA, speaking to media personnel after the Supreme Court announced its verdict, in New Delhi on Wednesday.

A.H. Vishwanath, disqualified MLA, speaking to media personnel after the Supreme Court announced its verdict, in New Delhi on Wednesday.   | Photo Credit: Atul Yadav

While the apex court has upheld disqualification, MLAs have been allowed to contest polls

The much-awaited decision of the Supreme Court on the validity of the former Speaker’s decision to disqualify rebel Congress and Janata Dal (Secular) legislators is being read as a victory by every player in the protracted drama.

For the disqualified legislators, their immediate aim to contest in the byelections have been met by the order. In various interviews, legislators heaved a sigh of relief while welcoming the verdict that has enabled them to contest the bypolls. The last date for filing nominations for the December 5 bypolls is next Monday. In any adverse order that would have barred them from contesting, many would have had to field family members and work to ensure their victory. This anxiety has been dissolved with the order.

However, the court has not agreed to their claim on the validity of the disqualification itself. The Supreme Court upheld the disqualification of the legislators, but did not agree with the former Speaker’s decision to bar them from contesting till the end of the Assembly’s term in 2023. They also cannot immediately occupy ministerial or any other positions.

Disqualified MLA A.H. Vishwanath said: “We are politicians and contesting elections is important for us. We are happy that the Supreme Court has allowed us to re-contest elections. It was a conspiracy by the then assembly Speaker, the Congress and the JD(S) to keep us out of politics for a long time. The apex court has defeated that conspiracy.” When quizzed on the court upholding their disqualification, he said there were many nuances in the judgment and he could comment only after reading the full text.

“No single party can claim victory for themselves. We are happy that the former Speaker’s order has been upheld. However, its applicability has been modified,” former legislative council chairman B.L. Shankar told The Hindu. According to him, the court’s order is also not clear about what will happen to two disqualified legislators from R.R. Nagar and Maski where elections are not being held due to ongoing election-related court petitions. “In the case of 15 legislators, they will contest elections and if they win they can occupy positions of power. However, can the other two legislators hold public office or not in the absence of elections?” he asked.

Mr. Shankar also said that the court should have used this opportunity to lay down a time frame within which the Speaker has to accept resignations, and also norms for the tenure of disqualification.

Partly, the order brings “moral victory” to the Congress and the JD(S), and also to the Speaker. The parties had petitioned the former Speaker to disqualify the rebels on charges of violating the whip. The court agreed with the former Speaker’s decision to disqualify them based on the provisions of the Tenth Schedule, but differed on the duration of the disqualification.

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Printable version | Jul 7, 2020 12:32:29 PM |

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