Editorial

Ball in speaker’s court

By Nagaland Post | Publish Date: 6/5/2020 1:31:24 PM IST

 After the Gauhati High Court, Kohima Bench directed the Speaker of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly to decide on the petition filed by the opposition Naga People’s Front(NPF) on the issue of disqualification of seven suspended rebel MLAs, the ball is now in the court of the Speaker, who has six weeks w.e.f June 2 to act . The court gave its judgement to a petition filed by the NPF to decide on the fates of the seven suspended rebel MLAs since the Speaker of the Nagaland Legislative Assembly had kept the decision pending for over one year. The crux of the matter was the action of the seven suspended MLAs who decided to extend support to the ruling Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party(NDPP) and joint candidate of the ruling coalition comprising of NDPP and Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) in the 17th Lok Sabha election. The seven purportedly defied the party decision on March 18,2019 to not set up a candidate but to support the Congress candidate as a one time issue-based support. This decision was reaffirmed by the NPF on March 23,2019 but the seven were not present at the meeting. The seven had on March 25,2019 issued a press statement expressing support to the PDA coalition candidate which was published in the local newspapers on March 26,2019. Thereupon, the party president of NPF issued a show-cause notice on the seven on the same date. On the receipt of their reply on April 1,2019 in which they reaffirmed their action , the NPF president on the report / recommendation of the party Disciplinary Action Committee(DAC), suspended the seven rebel MLAs from primary and active membership of the party on April 16,2019. The NPF legislature party then filed a disqualification proceeding with the Speaker against the seven suspended MLAs for attracting provisions of the Anti-Defection Law for indulging in anti-party activities etc. Owing to the lack of action on the part of the Speaker, even after 13 months elapsed, the NPF then took the matter to court. As per their plea, the NPF relied on the recent judgement of the Supreme Court which acted on the petition of the Congress since the Manipur Speaker had taken no action on their petition to disqualify a rebel Congress minister who joined BJP in Manipur. As per the counter argument of the Speaker NLA, reiterated that there was no delay in conducting the disqualification proceedings which were held at regular intervals that led to framing of issues and fixing of next hearing on March 21,2020. However due to the nationwide lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hearing date was postponed by an order issued on April 4,2020 with intimation that further notice would be issued after normalcy and functioning of the NLA secretariat resumed. Further, the respondent(s) also raised objections to the writ being filed by the NPF under Articles 226 and 227 of the constitution of India. Whatever be the issues raised in such cases, what has been accepted by all, is that there is urgent need for clarity over the role and powers of the speaker and how matters such as- disqualification and suspension from the house-ought to be decided. Unless parliament decides to bring more clarity, lawmakers will continue to rush to the court of interpreters for adjudication and invite more delays.

 

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