Apex court upholds Meghalaya speaker’s ruling on disqualification


New Delhi : The Supreme Court Thursday restored Meghalaya assembly Speaker Bindo M. Lanong’s right to decide on the disqualification of legislators under the anti-defection law.

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A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice J.M. Panchal and Justice H.L. Dattu scrapped a Gauhati High Court order which had barred the speaker from disqualifying five legislators who had crossed over to the Congress-led opposition in the state.

“How can the high court prevent the speaker from conducting the disqualification proceedings,” observed the bench.

The bench Wednesday sought justification from the union government for imposing President’s rule in Meghalaya despite the ruling Meghalaya Progressive Alliance (MPA) led by the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) having won the no-trust motion March 17.

The bench Thursday restored the speaker’s right on a lawsuit by legislator and MPA secretary Conrad A. Sangma, the son of NCP leader P.A. Sangma, challenging the March 18 order of the Shillong bench of the Gauhati High Court.

The high court had divested the speaker of his constitutional rights on a lawsuit by legislator Paul Lyngdoh and Limison D. Sangma, two of the five legislators who had crossed over to the Congress, on the eve of the no-trust motion.

As the five legislators defected, the speaker on a plea by the ruling combine to disqualify the legislators, suspended their membership and voting rights, preventing them from casting their votes during the no-trust motion March 17.

The suspended legislators included one each from NCP, Hills State Peoples Democratic Party (HSPDP) and Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement (KHNAM) and two independents.

In the voting, both Congress and MPA secured 27 votes each, with the speaker eventually casting his vote in favour of the government, thus defeating the no-trust motion.

But the union government imposed president’s rule on March 19, ordering the assembly to be kept in suspended animation.

A day after the no-trust motion the five legislators moved the high court.