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SC upholds Speaker
Published on 27 Mar. 2009 1:46 AM IST
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The Supreme Court Thursday restored Meghalaya assembly Speaker B. M. Lanong’s right to decide on the disqualification of legislators under the anti-defection law. A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice H.L. Dattu scrapped a Gauhati High Court order which had barred the speaker from disqualifying five legislators who had crossed over to the Congress-led opposition in the state. “How can the high court prevent the speaker from conducting the disqualification proceedings,” observed the bench. The bench Wednesday sought justification from the union government for imposing President’s rule in Meghalaya despite the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) led by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) having won the no-trust motion March 17. The bench Thursday restored the speaker’s right on a lawsuit by legislator and MPA secretary Conrad A. Sangma, the son of NCP leader P.A. Sangma, challenging the March 18 order of the Shillong bench of the Gauhati High Court. The high court had divested the speaker of his constitutional rights on a lawsuit by legislator Paul Lyngdoh and Limison D. Sangma, two of the five legislators who had crossed over to the Congress, on the eve of the no-trust motion. As the five legislators defected, the speaker on a plea by the ruling combine to disqualify the legislators, suspended their membership and voting rights, preventing them from casting their votes during the no-trust motion March 17. Meghalaya Speaker M.Lanong reacted to the apex court’s ruling said the ruling vindicated his positing saying : “I respect the constitution, and I will always act as per the provisions of law. My action against the five erring legislators was very much within laws.” In an interim ruling on the eve of the vote of confidence, Lanong suspended the voting rights of five members, including his deputy and NCP legislator Sanbor Shullai on prima facie evidence that the five “erring” legislators had violated the tenth schedule of the constitution. The other four legislators include – Paul Lyngdoh of Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM), and Dr Advisor Pariong of Hills State People’s Democratic Party (HSPDP) and two Independent legislators Ismail R Marak, Limison D Sangma who had defected to the Congress. In the voting, both Congress and MPA secured 27 votes each, with the speaker eventually casting his vote in favour of the government, thus defeating the no-trust motion. President’s rule was imposed on March 19.

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