New Delhi, January 10
In a four-to-one majority judgement, a five-judge constitution Bench headed by outgoing Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal upheld the dismissal of the MPs from different parties on the ground that the powers of “collective privilege” of the House would prevail upon the power or privileges of an individual MP if he had indulged in gross misconduct to use them for personal gains.
But the court at the same time said legislature could not claim “absolutism” and be “lofty” of the judicial review for any of its action as in India the Constitution was supreme, not Parliament.
“Constitutional system of government abhors absolutism and it being the cardinal principle of our Constitution that no one, howsoever lofty, can claim to be the sole judge of the power given under it, mere coordinate constitutional status,” CJI Sabharwal, CJI designate K.G. Balakrishnan, Mr Justices C.K. Thakker and D.K. Jain said.
However, Mr Justice R.V. Raveendran dissenting with them, said Parliament has not been given any power to expel its MPs as their membership can only be ended as per the disqualification provisions laid in Articles 101 and 102. He did not agree with the majority view that Parliament could draw powers from Article 105(3) to expel its members even for gross misconduct.
The majority judgement said the Indian parliamentary system was based on the British model and the same powers and privileges were available to Parliament which were available to the House of Commons that is empowered to expel its members for violation of the collective privileges of the House.
“We are unable to subscribe to this reasoning so as to find fault with the action that has been impugned before us,” the court said while clarifying that the expulsion provision under Article 105(3) was different from the provision of disqualification laid in Articles 102 and 103.
The court rejected the petitions of Rajya Sabha MPs C.P. Lodha and Sakshi Maharaj for their involvement in case-for-query and MPLAD scam, respectively, and 10 Lok Sabha MPs in taking bribe for asking questions. It rejected their contention that the Rajya Sabha Ethics Committee and Pawan Kumar Bansal inquiry committee set up by the Lok Sabha to examine their cases had not given them reasonable opportunity to explain their position, saying that from record it was clear that enough time was given to them before both Houses took expulsion decision on December 23, 2005.
The Lok Sabha MPs expelled include Raja Ram Pal, Suresh Chandel, Pradeep Gandhi, Y.G. Mahajan, Anna Sahib, M.K. Patil, Chandra Prakash Singh, Manoj Kumar, Ram Sewak Singh and Lal Chandra Kol.