SC dismisses Jharkhand Speaker's plea on stay of anti-defection process against Babulal Marandi

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea of Jharkhand Assembly speaker challenging the interim stay granted by the High Court on the initiation of anti-defection proceedings against BJP's leader of opposition Babulal Marandi.

The top court said that since the matter is listed before the high court for final disposal on Wednesday, it is not inclined to entertain the appeal filed by the Assembly speaker.

A bench of Chief Justice SA Bobde and Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, “Since the matter is listed before the High Court for final disposal tomorrow i.e. January 13, 2021, we are not inclined to entertain these special leave petitions. The same are, accordingly, dismissed”. “However, we request the High Court to dispose of the matter(s) peremptorily. The petitioner(s) is at liberty to raise all questions including the tenability of writ petition(s) of this nature before the High Court,” the bench said.

During the hearing, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the assembly speaker Ravindra Nath Mahto, said “I wonder whether a writ petition like this will lie or not” and questioned whether a writ petition pending before the high court is maintainable against a speaker’s notice.

Senior advocate PS Narasimha, appearing for Marandi said that the high court has listed the matter for final disposal for Wednesday. The bench told Sibal that he can argue on the issue before the High Court and can raise all the issues before it. Sibal said that they have already raised this issue before the High Court and the bench can peruse the order of the high court. He added that the high court had stayed the proceedings before the Speaker. The bench said that all these issues can be argued in the high court and issues like maintainability of writ petition can also be raised before it. On December 17, last year the high court had stayed the show cause notice served on Marandi for alleged violation of 10th schedule of the constitution till January 13 and has asked the Speaker to not to take any coercive action against him. Marandi, an MLA from Dhanwar constituency of the State has contended before the high court that the assembly Speaker has no jurisdiction to initiate proceedings against him as the merger of his party--Jharkhand Vikas Morcha-Prajatantrik (JVM-P)--into the BJP and his joining the saffron fold were not at all connected with anti-defection laws.

Marandi, after winning the Dhanwar seat in 2019 state polls, joined the BJP after merging his party JVM (P) with the saffron fold in February, last year. Two other MLAs--Pradeep Yadav and Bandhu Tirkey, who had also won the elections on JVM (P) ticket but later expelled from the party on disciplinary grounds, had joined the Congress.

The merger of JVM (P) and shifting of MLAs in different camps, however, have raised a controversy after one camp headed by Marandi and another by Yadav and Tirkey approached the Speaker making almost similar claims on merger of the party.

Marandi claimed that the JVM (P) and its legislator party, which was having only one MLA (Marandi himself), had merged with the BJP under the provisions of 10th Schedule of the constitution. But, Yadav and Tirkey, in their application made to the Speaker, submitted that two-third MLAs of JVM (P) legislator party had merged with the Congress claiming it to be a valid merger.

Meanwhile, the BJP, which emerged as the second largest party after the polls, had nominated Marandi as its leader of opposition and forwarded a letter to the Speaker to officially designate him as Leader of Opposition. PTI MNL ABA SJK MNL RKS RKS