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SC urges Parliament to rethink whether Speaker has power to disqualify legislators

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has asked the Parliament to rethink whether a Speaker of the House should have the power to take a call on disqualification of legislators.

The issue came up before a Bench headed by Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman while deciding a petition regarding disqualification of Manipur Forest and Environment Minister T Shyamkumar.

The bench, in the judgement, asked the Manipur Speaker to take a decision on Shyamkumar’s disqualification within four weeks.

Congress leader Shyamkumar had won from Andro seat in 2017 assembly elections. Congress, the single largest party with 28 seats, had, however, fell three seats short of the required number to achieve a majority in the 60-member assembly.

The BJP with 21 seats formed an alliance with other parties taking its tally to 30 seats, but with one short of the majority mark.

Shyamkumar later joined the BJP without resigning from Congress and helped BJP form a coalition government.

A similar question has come up before the apex court last year. It had, however, cleared the air around the relation between resignation and disqualification of a legislator.

The court had upheld the decision of former Karnataka Speaker K R Ramesh Kumar to disqualify 17 rebel Congress-JDS MLAs under the anti-defection law and allowed them to contest the by-elections in the state.

The rebel legislators were disqualified after they tendered their resignation. The move had led to the fall of the Congress-JD (S) coalition government, paving way for BJP to stake claim to form a new government in the state.