SC upholds Bedi’s decision to nominate 3 MLAs

New Delhi, Dec 6 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 12/6/2018 11:28:20 AM IST

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld Puducherry Lieutenant-Governor Kiran Bedi’s decision to nominate three Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to the Assembly of the Union Territory.

A three-judge Bench headed by Justice AK Sikri dismissed petitions challenging March 22 verdict of the Madras High Court declining to declare illegal the nominations made by the Central government under Section 3(3) of the Government of Union Territories Act, 1963, to the Legislative Assembly of Union Territory of Puducherry.

The Bench, which also included Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justce S Abdul Nazeer, ruled that the L-G had the power to nominate the three MLAs. 

The Congress had challenged Bedi’s decision contending she should have consulted Puducherry Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy before the nomination of the three MLAs. Swaminathan, KG Shankar and V Selvaganapathy were nominated by Bedi to the Assembly last year and the decision was challenged in the Madras HC by MLA Dhanalakshmi Narayan. The high court had upheld the nominations leading to second round of litigation in the Supreme Court. Upholding the HC verdict, the top court noted that Section 12(1) provided that all questions at any sitting of the Legislative Assembly of the Union Territory shall be determined by a majority of votes of the members present and voting other than the Speaker or person acting as such. 

“When the expression used is votes of members present, obviously the members of the Assembly both elected and nominated person has to be counted, we cannot while interpreting Section 12(1) exclude the nominated members. Further Section 12(1) uses the expression “all questions at any sitting of the Legislative Assembly”, the expression “all questions” shall include all matters, which are to be decided in any sitting of the Legislative Assembly. The statutory provision does not give indication that nominated members have no right to vote on budget and no confidence motion against the Government,” the Bench said. “Further, subsection (1) provides that in the voting majority of the votes of the members present and voting, the speaker shall not be a person, who shall vote. When provision of subsection (1) clearly provides no voting by Speaker, if intention of Legislature was to exclude the votes of nominated members, the said expression was bound to find included in the subsection (1). 

“The conclusion is inescapable that all members, including the nominated members, are entitled to vote in the sitting of the Legislative Assembly and the submission of Shri (Kapil) Sibal (petitioner’s senior counsel) that nominated members cannot exercise vote in budget and no confidence motion has to be rejected,” the top court said.

“Other provisions like subsection (4) of Section 12, which provides for quorum to constitute a meeting of the Legislative Assembly used the word “one-third of the total number of members of the Assembly”, members of the Assembly obviously will include both elected and nominated members. Thus, there is no basis for submission raised by Shri Sibal that nominated members cannot exercise their vote in budget and no confidence motion against the Government,” the top court said, rejecting the petition.

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