New Delhi, Sep 22 : The Supreme Court on Tuesday sought a response from the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker on a plea that sought a decision on the disqualification of 22 Congress MLAs who switched over to the BJP, an issue pending for more than six months.
A bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice AS Bopanna, and Justice V Ramasubramanian said: “List the matter next week. Counter affidavit may be filed in the meantime.”
Senior Advocate Vivek Tankha, representing Congress MLA Vinay Saxena, said that the case had been listed for Tuesday for a response from the Speaker.
Tankha argued that disqualification petitions were pending with the Speaker since March 12, and insisted that he should pass an order on these petitions.
The petitioner argued that 12 of the 22 MLAs had since been appointed Ministers in the state. The plea contended that the delay virtually defeated the very purpose of the anti-defection law.
The counsel for the Assembly Secretariat contended that he had received a copy of the plea on Monday and hence sought two weeks time to file a response.
The bench said that it understands the request for time but the Speaker has only to make a statement as to when these petitions would be decided, to which the counsel replied that he was representing the Vidhan Sabha Secretariat and not the Speaker.
The bench replied: “We don’t see any practical difference between the Vidhan Sabha and the Speaker.”
Tankha argued that the Speaker must decide the disqualification petitions within two weeks.
The bench listed the matter for next week and noted that the Speaker should make a statement on the issue.
The apex court had sought the Speaker’s response on the plea on August 17.
MLA Saxena had contended that the Congress MLAs who switched over to the BJP cannot be appointed as Ministers, as disqualification proceedings were pending against them.
His plea also cited an apex court ruling in a case from Manipur, wherein it held that the disqualification proceedings should be decided within a period of three months.