New Delhi [India] : The Supreme Court on Monday said it expects the West Bengal Legislative Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee would take a call on the disqualification petition moved against Trinamool Congress (TMC) MLA Mukul Roy and posted the matter for hearing before it in the third week of January 2022.
A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao and Hima Kohli also observed that there is a general practice of Speakers delaying the hearing of defection petitions under the Tenth Schedule of the constitution. “There are so many cases where there is a delay by the Speaker… We are told you stay away, let the Speaker decide,” Justice Rao observed.
The apex court was hearing two separate appeals by the Assembly Speaker and the Secretary and the Returning Officer of West Bengal Assembly, against the Calcutta High Court order.
The High Court had directed the Speaker to decide by October 7 the petition seeking Roy’s disqualification for his defection from BJP to TMC. The order of High Court had come on plea moved by BJP MLA Ambika Roy challenging the appointment of TMC MLA Mukul Roy as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
On June 17, a disqualification petition had also been moved before the Speaker by BJP MLA and Leader of the Opposition Suvendu Adhikari against Mukul Roy on the grounds of defection.
During the hearing before the top court, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing for the Speaker told the Bench that the Speaker had fixed December 21 as the next date of hearing of the disqualification petition filed by Adhikari against Mukul Roy.
Taking into note that the petition for disqualification is now listed before the Speaker on December 21, the Bench said, “We hope the Speaker proceeds with the hearing of the matter and decides the matter in accordance with the law.”
In its September 28 order, the Calcutta High Court had observed that it is a constitutional convention to appoint the Leader of the Opposition as the Chairman of the PAC and ruled that the issue pertaining to disqualification of Roy as Member of the Legislative Assembly is co-related with him being the Chairman of the PAC.
Speaker of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly had then moved the Supreme Court challenging the direction to decide on the disqualification petition against Roy.