New Delhi [India], January 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the resolution passed by the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly suspending 12 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MLAs, is prima facie "unconstitutional" as such a suspension cannot operate beyond six months owing to a constitutional bar.
A Bench of Justices AM Khanwilkar, Dinesh Maheshwari and CT Ravikumar said explicit outer limit as per the Constitution for an MLA to be absent from his seat is 60 days, after which the seat is deemed to be vacated.
"How long can seat remain vacant? At the most six months outer limit can be there. Here we are talking about a constituency being represented in a parliamentary form of democracy? Is this not hitting the basic structure of the constitution when the 12 constituencies are unrepresented?" asked the Bench.
"We can say that the decision to suspension can only operate till 6 months and later than that it will be hit by constitutional bar," it added.
The Bench took exception to the arguments of senior advocate Aryama Sundaram Maharashtra Assembly that the House has absolute powers to frame its own rules including on period of suspension of its members.
The Bench said that even if the Assembly rules are read in consonance with the Constitution, the maximum bar could be for six months only.
It observed, "We will say that the decision is unconstitutional. House has authority to suspend you (MLAs) but not beyond 59 days. House is also governed by Constitution and fundamental rights. This is not punishing the member but punishing the Constituency as a whole. In the facts of the present matter, we will say enough is enough in two pages."It further opined that the decision of suspension is even worse than expelling them, since no one can then represent the constituents of the suspended representatives in the Assembly.
The apex court will now hear the matter next on January 18, 2022.
It was hearing pleas of 12 BJP MLAs from Maharashtra challenging their one-year suspension from the state Legislative Assembly for allegedly misbehaving with the presiding officer.
12 BJP MLAs were suspended on July 5, 2021 from the Assembly for one year after the State government had accused them of "misbehaving" with presiding officer Bhaskar Jadhav in the Speaker's chamber. The motion to suspend these MLAs was moved by state Parliamentary Affairs Minister Anil Parab and passed by a voice vote.
On July 22 last year they had filed the plea in the top court challenging the resolution passed by the Assembly to suspend them for one year.
The 12 suspended members are- Sanjay Kute, Ashish Shelar, Abhimanyu Pawar, Girish Mahajan, Atul Bhatkhalkar, Parag Alavani, Harish Pimpale, Yogesh Sagar, Jay Kumar Rawat, Narayan Kuche, Ram Satpute and Bunty Bhangdia. (ANI)