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Jolt for Mulayam; HC disqualifies 40 rebel BSP MLAs
Shahira Naim
Tribune News Service

Lucknow, February 28
The BSP won a major legal battle when two judges of the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court today maintained that the “law of natural justice had been violated” by the four orders of the Vidhan Sabha speakers in the disqualification case of 40 BSP MLAs. Chief Justice A.N. Ray however, disagreed with his fellow judges and dismissed the BSP petition challenging the Speaker’s orders.

The long-awaited judgment that had earlier been reserved finally came up before the Bench of Chief Justice A.N. Ray, Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice Pradeep Kant. The petitioner BSP leader in the Vidhan Sabha Swami Prasad Maurya had challenged the then Speaker’s decision to recognise the 40 BSP MLAs as a split in the party on the grounds that they had not broken away as a group but in stages.

In a split decision, Justice Bhalla and Justice Kant remanded the issue of the four controversial orders by the Speakers in the matter back to him asking him to review it in the light of natural justice. According to BSP counsel and senior party leader S.C. Mishra the judgment virtually declared the Speaker’s earlier orders non-existent.

According to Mr Mishra this virtually restored the status quo ante by refusing to recognise the split in stages of the breakaway BSP MLAs and subsequent merger into the Samajwadi Party. This move of the Speaker had then facilitated the formation of the Mulyam Singh Yadav government in September, 2003.

Another significant part of the judgment was the two judges’ decision to dismiss the request of Rakesh Dwedi, counsel for the disqualified MLAs, to withhold the implementation of today’s judgment by 15 days as they were in the process of approaching the apex court.

The judgment brought an end to the 30-month old suspense regarding the legality of the BSP split that had helped Mulayam Singh form a government in September 2003.

On September 4, 2003, the BSP had filed a petition before the then Speaker Keshari Nath Tripathi requesting him to disqualify the 13 MLAs who had voluntarily given up party membership.

However, Mr Tripathi on August 6, 2003, recognised group of 37 MLAs under the leadership of Raj Singh Rana as Loktantrik Bahujan Dal. It did not give any finding on the split holding that no such finding was required under Xth Schedule of the Constitution. This is the first of the orders squashed by today’s judgement.

By a second order on the same day Mr Tripathi had allowed the merger of the new group and recognised the 37 MLAs as members of the Samajwadi Party.

In his third order, quashed by the High Court today, Mr Tripathi had accepted the request of 3 of another 6 BSP MLAs to be counted along the 37 thus taking the number of BSP MLAs joining the Samajwadi party to 40.

The fourth order that was challenged by the High court today was issued by the present Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey on September 7, 2005, in which he dismissed the original petition filed against the 13 MLAs before Keshari Nath Tripathi in the House by the BSP.

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