(Eds: Replacing a word in intro) Guwahati, Feb 10 (PTI) Gauhati High Court on Wednesday upheld the Assam Assembly secretary A N Deka's notification which derecognised Congress MLA Debabrata Saikia as leader of the opposition in the house.
The recognition to Saikia was withdrawn on the ground that Congress has lost one-sixth strength of the total members of the House.
Justice Achintya Malla Bujor Barua dismissed Saikia's writ petition challenging the notification issued on January 1 by the assembly secretary in which he withdrew the recognition given to Saikia on June 4, 2016 as the leader of the opposition.
The judge also vacated the interim order passed on January 12 when he had issued notice returnable by four weeks and had stayed the withdrawal of recognition.
Saikia had in his petition contended that the notification violated his fundamental right under Article 14 (equality before law) of the Constitution of India and also unlawfully invoked Rule 11(2)(i)(c) of the Directions by the Speaker of the Assam Assembly.
Saikia had also claimed that he is legally entitled to the status of leader of opposition as per Section 2 of the Salary and Allowances of the Leaders of the Opposition in Assam Legislative Assembly Act, 1978.
He had said both these requirements were fulfilled and since the notification did not withdraw his recognition for their non-fulfillment, he is still legally entitled to remain the leader of the opposition.
Assam assembly has 126 seats of which the BJP has 60 and the opposition Congress has 20 seats. Four more seats that Congress had won in 2016 is vacant.
Of the four vacant Congress seats, former chief minister Tarun Gogoi and former speaker Pranab Gogoi are dead, while Ajanta Neog and Rajdeep Goala had resigned from the party to join BJP.
The assembly goes to the polls in March-April this year. PTI COR DG KK KK NN NN