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SC stays pending proceedings against UP Speaker

By Staff
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New Delhi, Mar 24 (UNI) The Supreme Court today stayed all the proceedings pending before the UP Assembly Speaker, subsequent to the Allahabad High Court order of February 28, 2006 holding that the defection of some MLAs from the BSP to form a new group called Loktantrik Bahujan Dal was illegal.

A bench, comprising Mr Justice K G Balakrishnan and Mr Justice PP Naolekar however permitted 32 MLAs of the breakaway group to exist as an independent group as per the order of the Speaker, dated September 6, 2003, to preserve their political status in the Assembly.

The Court, however, permitted five MLAs of the breakaway group who have resigned from the ministry and the post of chairmen of various boards subsequent to the High Court order, to function as BSP MLAs. Referring the matter to a larger bench, it refused to fix the same for early hearing.

Earlier, counsel for the petitioner Harish Salve sought the stay of the impugned judgement of the High Court on the ground that if a stay is not granted, the petitioners will be left as a floating lot and will not know the whip of which party they have to follow, as they will neither be in BSP nor in Samajwadi party.

Senior Counsel K K Venugopal, appearing for BSP, however opposed the plea of the petitioners for interim stay on the grounds that the Speaker has ''bungled'' in deciding the issue whether the members of the breakaway group were covered by the provisions of the anti-defection law.

Mr Venugopal told the court that on August 26 2003, the total strength of the breakaway group was only 13, and BSP filed a petition before the Speaker on September 4, seeking their disqualification but he deliberately kept the entire issue pending till the strength of the breakaway group went up to 37 on September 6. Thereafter, he passed the two orders recognising the breakaway group as Loktantrik Bahujan Dal (LBD) and also their merger in the Samajwadi party on the same day.

Mr Venugopal also submitted that all the defecting MLAs were made either ministers or charimen of various state boards, and added that it was a shame on the country that an anti-defection law had to be brought in.

Twenty nine MLAs filed one special leave petition (SLP) and remaining filed another SLP challenging the High Court order holding the defection as ''illegal and unconstitutional''.

The court, however, refused to stay the operation of the Speaker's order dated September 6, 2003 as well as the judgement of the High Court. The Court refused to fix an early date of hearing when Mr Venugopal pleaded before the court that since only six months are left in the completion of the term of the present Assembly, and the SLPs may become infructuous, if not disposed of expeditiously.

UNI AKS SC ARB BS1744

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