Supreme Court order strengthens speaker’s powers in anti-defection law cases
New Delhi: Thursday’s constitution bench verdict in the Maharashtra political crisis case strengthened the speaker’s hands in deciding disqualification petitions under the anti-defection law, effectively suspending the operation of a 2016 judgment that had barred legislatures The presiding officers were stripped of their authority. Demand for his removal is pending.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dhananjay Y Chandrachud not only referred the 2016 judgment in the Nebam Rabia (Arunachal Pradesh disqualification) case to a seven-judge bench, but also laid down an interim mechanism that would give more powers to the Speaker till till a larger bench decides on the issue.
Laying down a procedure that would give “some degree of clarity and certainty”, the bench said that on the basis of the special power given to Speakers under the Tenth Schedule (anti-defection law), they would also be empowered to decide whether Whether to proceed with the disqualification petition or not.
“The vesting of exclusive jurisdiction on the Speaker to determine complaints under the Tenth Schedule would empower the Speaker to rule and decide applications questioning his jurisdiction,” the bench said. PS Narasimha.
According to the Bench, the Speaker is entitled to rule on applications requiring him to refrain from proceeding under the Tenth Schedule on the basis of initiation of a motion for removal under Article 179(c). “A Speaker may examine whether the application is bona fide or merely intended to avoid adjudication,” it declared.
The court said whether the motion is valid and proper or not, it is for the Speaker to decide. “If the Speaker is of the opinion that the motion is well founded, he may adjourn the proceedings under the Tenth Schedule until the decision to remove him is over. On the other hand, if he is of the opinion that If the motion is not in accordance with the due process of law read with the relevant rules, they are entitled to dismiss the petition and proceed with the hearing.
The Constitution Bench said that any decision taken by the Speaker would be subject to judicial review – although this is a statement of a legal position that still exists today.
“The decision of the Chairperson, either to adjourn the proceedings under the Tenth Schedule in view of the pending proceedings under Article 179(c) or to proceed with the hearing, shall be subject to judicial review,” it said.
Going a step further, the bench further declared that since the decision of the Speaker pertains to his jurisdiction, the bar of “quia timete” action would not apply and there cannot be an injunction against the Speaker from deciding the disqualification petition. The principle of “quia timete” applies in cases where a party seeks an injunction against an act in question.
The Constitution Bench on Thursday relied on the 1992 judgment in the Kihoto Holan case, which held that the Speaker cannot be restrained from taking a decision on the ground of imminent danger, which would be irreparable in the sense that if the Speaker fails to decide proceeds to disqualify the person, he shall suffer the penalty of disqualification from his membership of the House for a long period.