Editorial

To qualify and disqualify

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 7/15/2020 10:46:50 PM IST

 Seven suspended Naga People’s Front (NPF) rebel MLAs and the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party(NDPP) will heave a sigh of relief after Nagaland Assembly Speaker Sharingain Longkumer on July 14,2020 dismissed the disqualification petition filed by the NPF. Later briefing media, the Speaker reiterated that the seven suspended rebel MLAs had not attracted provisions under Para 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule and thus, did not attract disqualification. The particular clause states that a legislator(s) of any party can only be disqualified if he/she has voluntarily given up membership of such a political party. Based on this, it was clear that the Speaker based his ruling on this clause, that since the seven suspended rebel MLAs had not ‘voluntarily’ or so, given up membership of their party(NPF), they were exempted them from being disqualified. The Tenth Schedule has been time and again, been argued in the court when matters involving disqualification(s) or action(s) of Speaker(s) was/were contested.The seven rebel MLAs had certainly gone against the decision of the party and the legislature by issuing a press statement on March 25,2019 and which appeared in the local media, of their decision to extend support to their party’s rival and Progressive Democratic Alliance(PDA)consensus candidate in the Lok Sabha election 2019. After being served with show-cause notices on March 26,2020, the rebel MLAs affirmed that they had decided to support the NDPP candidate who was also the consensus candidate of the ruling PDA coalition. Then on April 24,2019 the NPF filed a petition for disqualification of the rebel MLAs with the office of the Speaker NLA. On May 24,2019 then Speaker Vikho-o Yhoshu admitted that he was in receipt of the petition which was under his active consideration. The matter got delayed further when Vikho-o passed away on December 30,2019. Sharingain was then elected as Speaker on February 7,2020 and took up the case and framed the issues on March 21,2020. The Speaker then fixed the next date of hearing for April 24,2020 but it was cancelled through an order dated April 18,2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. In view of prolonged delay and in lieu of the directive of the Supreme Court to conclude the case, the NPF filed a petition with the high court. In its hearing on June 2,2020 the court directed the Speaker to conclude the case within six weeks. Final hearings were also held on July 6 and 7,2020. As the case stands currently, the NPF will again take the case up with the high court to challenge the Speaker’s ruling. With 25 members, the NPF is the largest single party in the 58-member house(after the demise of two legislators) while the NDPP has 20(after the demise of the previous speaker) and BJP 12. If the court disqualifies the seven rebels, by election will be held to nine seats. In any byelection, it will be advantage NDPP and BJP because even if NPF retains all eight seats (including one vacant seat), it cannot come to power. On the other hand, NPF has the option of letting matters lie and still keep the suspended rebel MLAs on leash(since they are still bound by party whip) and hope to woo BJP to form an alternative government. These are speculative and it all depends on whether the BJP is willing to play ball. 

Launched on December 3,1990. Nagaland Post is the first and highest circulated newspaper of Nagaland state. Nagaland Post is also the first newspaper in Nagaland to be published in multi-colour.

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