M A I N   N E W S

Amarinder’s expulsion quashed by SC
Terms ouster unconstitutional, orders restoration of Capt’s Vidhan Sabha membership
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

Amarinder Singh"The lawlessness and blatant act of political vendetta at the hands of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has been proved by the Supreme Court….The Badal government contrived to get me expelled by its brute majority… The verdict should send a clear message to it that the country has a Constitution and an established law, which protects an individual from those who profess the law of the jungle. — Amarinder Singh

The Ruling

  • Land exemption was executive action, not breach of privilege
  • Exemption granted when 12th House was in place, 13th House can’t take action against Amarinder
  • Improper exemption is a criminal act
  • Only courts can decide, not legislature

New Delhi, April 26
In what is being viewed as a major political victory for former Punjab Chief Minister and Congress leader Capt Amarinder Singh, the Supreme Court today ruled that his expulsion from the state assembly on September 10, 2008 was “constitutionally invalid” and ordered restoration of his membership.

If Amarinder had committed any irregularities in the allotment of land to a private builder when he was Chief Minister during the tenure of the 12th House of the Vidhan Sabha, the proper course of action for the state government should have been to move the criminal law machinery, a five-member Constitution Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan held.

“It is our considered view that the Punjab Vidhan Sabha exceeded its powers by expelling the appellant (Capt Singh) on the ground of a breach of privilege when there existed none,” the Bench, which included Justices RV Raveendran, P Sathasivam, JM Panchal and RM Lodha, said.

Further, the alleged improper exemption of land from the Amritsar Improvement Scheme “was an executive act” in his capacity as Chief Minister which “did not distort, obstruct or threaten the integrity of legislative proceedings in any manner”, the apex court ruled.

Also, the exemption had taken place during the 12th term of the Vidhan Sabha, whereas the constitution of the Special Committee to inquire into it took place during the 13th term. “It was not proper for the Assembly to inquire into actions that took place during its previous term, especially when there was no relatable business that had lapsed from the previous term.”

“If we were to permit the legislature to exercise privileges for acting against members for their executive acts during previous terms, the courts are likely to be flooded with cases involving political rivalries. One can conceive that whenever there is a change of regime, the fresh incumbents would readily fall back on the device of legislative privileges to expel their political opponents as well as dissidents. Such a scenario would frustrate some of the basic objectives of a parliamentary democracy,” the court observed.

When it was well known that the case relating to the exemption was pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Assembly should have refrained from dealing with it, the SC ruled in the verdict, written for the Bench by the CJI.

The court clarified that its judgment would not act as a hurdle against the investigation, if any, into the alleged role of 67-year-old Capt Singh in the Amritsar Improvement Scheme notified on January 13, 2006. Senior counsel K Parasaran, assisted by advocate Atul Nanda, had argued for Amarinder Singh.





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