Supreme Court sets aside Manipur Speaker's order disqualifying three MLAs for defection

By PTI

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court Wednesday set aside an order passed by the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly disqualifying three former Congress MLAs over their alleged defection to BJP.

A bench headed by Justice U U Lalit asked the Speaker to decide the matter afresh.

“We allow the appeal, set aside the order of the High Court, and restore the matter pending before the Speaker to be decided afresh without being influenced by earlier orders or the one that was passed by the High Court.

“Since the order passed by the Speaker has now been set aside, till the matter has been disposed of by the Speaker, the MLA shall continue to represent the electorate in the house of Legislative Assembly,” the bench, also comprising Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Bela M Trivedi, said.

The apex court had earlier issued notices and sought responses from the office of Assembly Speaker and others on three separate petitions filed by the disqualified MLAs who had challenged the June 2, 2021 verdicts of the high court which had said there was enough material before the Speaker to draw the inference that they had voluntarily given up their membership of Indian National Congress (INC).

The three MLAs were disqualified by the Speaker on June 18 last year after disqualification petitions were filed alleging that they had voluntarily given up their membership of the INC and given their support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

It was also alleged in the disqualification petition that they had participated in political works and programmes hosted by the BJP.

The top court was hearing three separate petitions filed by Kshetrimayum Biren Singh, Yengkhom Surchandra Singh, and Sanasam Bira Singh who were elected as MLAs as Congress candidates in the March 2017 Assembly election.

In one of the verdicts passed on the petition filed by Kshetrimayum Biren Singh, the high court had said, “On examining the photographs/videos and newspaper reports filed in connection with the disqualification cases, the existence of which was never denied by the writ petitioner, we are of the considered view that there were enough materials before the Speaker to draw an inference that the writ petitioner had voluntarily given up his membership of the Indian National Congress (INC)”.

“In view of the ongoing discussion and findings, we are of the opinion that the orders of the Speaker are in accordance with the provisions of Tenth Schedule of the Constitution of India and do not call for any interference by this court in the exercise of the power of judicial review under Article 226 of the Constitution of India.

The writ petition, therefore, fails and is accordingly dismissed,” the high court had said.