SC disposes Congress lawmaker's plea on disqualification proceedings against MLAs in MP

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New Delhi, Nov 4 (PTI) The Supreme Court Wednesday disposed of the plea which raised the issue of pendency of disqualification proceedings against some Congress MLAs, who had joined the BJP and were appointed as ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government in Madhya Pradesh, after being told that the matter has become infructuous as bypolls have been held in the state.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde was informed by senior advocate Kapil Sibal, who appeared for petitioner Congress MLA Vinay Saxena, about bypolls on 28 Assembly constituencies in Madhya Pradesh which were held on Tuesday.

Sibal expressed anguish over the delay in hearing of disqualification matters and said, “Now the delay from March to November has rendered the matter infructuous.” He told the bench, also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian, that such matters get adjourned which lead to the cases becoming infructuous and similar matters from Tamil Nadu and Goa have not been heard for months.

“Now this plea has become infructuous. Such matters become infructuous as time is sought by counsel. Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu matters are all languishing. These are serious matters,” Sibal said, adding, “I am expressing my deep anguish in not dealing with such cases with some kind of urgency”.

He said the Tamil Nadu matter is “languishing for almost three and half years” and it would finally become infructuous.

The bench said, “But time is sought on all the sides. Anyways, we will bear it in mind and reject such requests for adjournment.' The CJI said: “The request for adjournment on grounds of filing replies and other such grounds are made. We will keep this in mind in future.” On September 22, the apex court had asked the Madhya Pradesh Assembly Speaker to apprise it as to when he would decide the disqualification petitions against 22 Congress MLAs who switched sides to the ruling BJP in the state.

On August 17, the top court had sought response from the office of the speaker on the plea of Saxena which had contended that Congress MLAs, who have resigned to join BJP, cannot be appointed as ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government, during the pendency of their disqualification proceedings.

The plea had said that as per the apex court verdict in Manipur case, the disqualification proceedings have to be decided within a period of three months by the speaker.

It had said that during the pendency of these disqualification applications, 12 out of 22 Congress MLAs who have resigned to join BJP have been appointed as ministers in the state government.

The plea said the disqualification petitions have been pending against the rebel MLAs since March 12 but no proceedings have been initiated till now and the delay will amount to virtually defeating the very purpose of anti-defection law.

On June 2, Chouhan carried out a major expansion of his cabinet, including 28 new members, a dozen of them former Congress MLAs whose rebellion contributed to the collapse of Kamal Nath led Congress government in the state. PTI SJK ABA MNL SA