Northeast

12 MLAs’ Disqualification: Manipur governor cannot 'sit over' opinion given by ECI, says SC
Twelve ruling MLAs of Manipur are reportedly facing disqualification in a 2018 "office-of-profit" case for holding the position of parliamentary secretaries.

ByIFP Bureau

Updated on 10 Nov 2021, 9:51 am

Supreme Court of India (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Supreme Court of India (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

 

The Supreme Court on Tuesday observed that the governor of Manipur cannot “sit over” the opinion given by the Election Commission of India (ECI) regarding the disqualification of 12 BJP MLAs in the “office of profit” issue. 

The observation was made by a three-judge bench headed by Justice L Nageswara Rao after it was apprised that the governor is yet to take a decision on the EC's opinion furnished on January 13, 2021.

The Supreme Court was hearing a plea filed by Karong MLA D D Thaisii and others seeking disqualification of 12 ruling MLAs on the ground that they were holding the posts of Parliamentary Secretaries, which amounted to “office of profits.” 

The bench, also comprising Justices B R Gavai and B V Nagarathna, while pointing out that reference has been passed by the Election Commission, questioned why the governor cannot pass an order. “The government should ask the governor. Something must be done. The Election Commission had submitted its opinion in the matter in January. The governor cannot sit over the decision,” it said.  

According to a report by LiveLaw, senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioner, submitted that the governor cannot keep the decision pending. He highlighted that the term of the assembly was expiring within a month.

Sibal submitted that the term of the Assembly was expiring within a month and if something is not done the issue would become infructuous.

“We must know what the Constitutional authorities are doing in the country. The governor is not discharging his constitutional obligation. They will delay and one month will pass. We are entitled to know what the opinion is,” Sibal said.

The counsel representing the state government sought adjournment, saying that the Solicitor General of India was arguing before another bench.

The matter was then posted for hearing on November 11. The bench issued notice to the secretary of the governor on an application filed by the petitioner seeking the production of the governor's decision before the court.

The 12 ruling MLAs of Manipur are reportedly facing disqualification in a 2018 "office-of-profit" case for holding the position of parliamentary secretaries.

Soon after coming to power in 2017, the BJP-led state government appointed 12 MLAs — eight from BJP, three from Naga People’s Front (NPF) and one independent.

They are L Susindro (Khurai assembly constituency), N Indrajit (Kshetrigao assembly constituency), L Rameshwor (Keirao assembly constituency), Th Satyabrata (Yaiskul assembly constituency), H Dingo (Sekmai assembly constituency), Dr S Ranjan (Konthoujam assembly constituency), S Subashchandra (Naoriya Pakhanglakpa assembly constituency), K Robindro (Mayang Imphal assembly constituency), Leishiyo Keishing (Phungyar assembly constituency), Khasim Vashum (Chingai assembly constituency), Awangbow Newmai (Tamei assembly constituency), and Asab Uddin (Jiribam assembly constituency).

Shortly after their appointment was challenged in the court, they resigned from their respective posts in 2017.

The writ petition pointed out that the 12 members of the Legislative Assembly of Manipur were appointed as parliamentary secretaries for the state of Manipur.

The offices titled as parliamentary secretary for Manipur, are Offices of Profit, as the said appointment elevated the 12 members of the Legislative Assembly of Manipur to the rank and status of state ministers. They were also entitled to draw higher salary and allowances, it stated.  

The petitioner stated that the 12 members of the Legislative Assembly, who were appointed and accepted appointment as Parliamentary Secretaries, therefore, occupied the Office of Profit and automatically incurred the disqualification under Article 191 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, they are not entitled to continue as Members of the Manipur Legislative Assembly, the petitioner added. 

IFP Bureau

IFP Bureau

IMPHAL, Manipur

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