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SC refuses to restrain Speaker
Jharkhand MLAs’ plea
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 11
The Supreme Court today refused to pass any order on the petitions of three Jharkhand MLAs, seeking to restrain state Assembly Speaker from taking a decision on his notices to them on disqualification plea, virtually giving him free hand to decide the matter.

But a Bench of Mr Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Mr Justice D.K. Jain kept the writ petitions of the MLAs pending and adjourned the hearing for September 14, when Chief Minister Arjun Munda is scheduled to take the floor test to prove his majority as asked for by Governor Syed Sibete Razi.

The NDA government, headed by BJP leader Munda is facing the danger of losing power with the resignation of four MLAs from his ministry, including Stephen Marandi, Enos Ekka (Independents) and Kamlesh Kumar Singh (NCP) to whom notices were issued by Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari on September 6 with today’s deadline to submit their replies.

While notices to Mr Marandi and Mr Ekka (Independents) were issued on pending applications for disqualification on the ground that they had joined political parties Jharkhand Vikas Manch and Jharkhand Party, respectively, NCP MLA Kamlesh Kumar Singh was served notice for defying party whip earlier. However, no notice was issued to fourth MLA Madhu Koda, whose status as Independent was not disturbed.

Advocate K.K. Venugopal, who appeared for Mr Marandi, pressed for an order to restrain the Speaker to take any action on the notices alleging that his action was smacked with “bias.”

But the court said merely issuing of the notices was not sufficient to interference by it. The three MLAs should go back to the Speaker and file replies, which they were supposed to do under the law, it suggested. Mr Venugopal said the Speaker’s action was biased because he had said in the notices that if the MLAs failed to respond by today, he would take ex-parte decision, which virtually was a threat of disqualification.

It looked imminent with the Speaker’s interview to some TV channels this afternoon that he was waiting for the Supreme Court order, Mr Venugopal pointed out.

But the Bench was not impressed and asked, “Does the court have power to interfere simply because notices have been issued? Under the Constitution, the Speaker has power to issue notices and seek explanation from MLAs if there is a complaint against them. Why don’t you give replies to the show cause notices?”

Advocate Soli Sorabjee, appearing for the Jharkhand Government, said the MLAs instead of filing replies, had chosen to approach the apex court and wanted it to act as a tribunal to adjudicate upon the action of the Speaker.

Ambarish Dutta adds from Ranchi: The fate of the three MLAs, Enosh Ekka, Kamalaesh Singh and Stephen Marandi continued to hang in balance as both the Jharkhand Assembly Speaker Inder Singh Namdhari and the Supreme Court reserved their judgements on the disqualification notices served on them against clarification till the next hearing.

While the Mr Namdhari has fixed September 13 as the next date of hearing, the Supreme Court will hear the case on September 14.

Mr Namdhari, while serving the disqualification notices last Thursday, had fixed today as the last date for the three MLAs to clarify their stand on the same.

The lawyers on behalf of the MLAs today submitted before Mr Namdhari to extend the date of clarification for at least seven days enabling their clients to clarify their respective stands by September 18.

But soon after the Supreme Court fixed the next date of hearing of the case on September 14, Mr Namdhari fixed the next date of hearing of the case by him on September 13.

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