New Delhi: Following the Supreme Court’s observation that the decision to suspend 12 BJP MLAs from the Maharashtra Assembly for one year is prima facie unconstitutional as it has a constitutional bar to work for more than six months, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) Govt. This issue is likely to be treaded carefully.
On January 11, while hearing a petition by 12 BJP MLAs challenging their suspension for 1 year from the state assembly, the top court observed that the House has the power to suspend a member, but it does not exceed 59 days. Cannot be told and under Article 190(4) of the Constitution, if a member of the House is absent from all sittings for a period of 60 days without his permission, the House can declare the seat vacant. Terming the move against the MLAs as “worse than expulsion”, it said each constituency has an equal right to be represented in the House.
During the monsoon session of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly last year, 12 BJP MLAs were suspended for a year for allegedly misbehaving with the presiding officer in the Speaker’s chamber. The suspended MLAs include Ashish Shelar, Sanjay Kute, Atul Bhatkalkar, Girish Mahajan, Jaykumar Rawal, Yogesh Sagar, Parag Alwani, Harish Pimple, Ram Satpute, Narayan Kuche, Bunty Bhangadiya and Abhimanyu Pawar.
A day before the hearing of the matter in the Supreme Court, 6 of the 12 suspended MLAs appeared before Deputy Speaker Narhari Jhirwal for hearing on their suspension, when they were asked to record their statements before the Deputy Speaker.
Sources in the Maharashtra government said the apex court’s remarks “definitely put some pressure” on the government on the issue. “The State Legislative Assembly has exercised its power with respect to the behavior of some of its MLAs. “The Supreme Court’s observation has certainly put some pressure on the government, but all aspects of the issue will be considered,” a government source said.
A senior minister questioned Maharashtra Governor Bhagat Singh Koshyari’s non-approval of 12 names recommended by the Uddhav Thackeray cabinet in November 2020 to the state legislative council through the governor’s quota. “It has been more than a year that the governor has not approved any name despite the recommendation of the state cabinet. The governor has to act on the advice of the state cabinet but the names of 12 MLCs have not been approved. But, no one is calling it unconstitutional,” the minister said.
There have been instances where members of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly or Legislative Council have been suspended for six months or more on various grounds over the years.
In March 2017, BJP-backed Independent Member of Legislative Council (MLC) Prashant Paricharak was suspended for 18 months for some of his objectionable remarks, though his suspension was revoked in February 2018. However, after protests by Shiv Sena members. And on the demand for his dismissal, Paricharak’s entry into the House was “restricted” till June 2019.
On 25 July 2000, after the then Congress-NCP government decided to arrest Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray, 12 Shiv Sena MLAs were suspended – 6 members for 1 year and another 6 for six months – in the House. for causing ruckus in me and their “misbehaviour”. , for allegedly inciting communal hatred in cases relating to the 1993 Mumbai riots. Two days later, two Shiv Sena MLAs were suspended for one year on the same grounds. Thereafter, the 1-year suspension of 8 Shiv Sena MLAs was reduced to six months.
In June 2009, 3 BJP and Shiv Sena MLAs were suspended for 3 years for their “misbehavior” in the House. However, his suspension was withdrawn in November 2009.
In November 2009, 4 MNS MLAs were suspended for 4 years for their “inappropriate” behavior in the House, but this was withdrawn in July 2010.
On the issue of the present suspension of 12 MLAs, Dr Anant Kalse, former Principal Secretary, Maharashtra Legislature Secretariat, said, “The Supreme Court has given its observation considering all aspects, and its decision to deprive members from representing constituencies. Thoughts. Rights. But, the Constitution has given powers under Article 194 to the House to suspend the members for indecent behavior of the House under the penal jurisdiction of the House.”