29 Jan 2022
G.S. Paper 2: Polity
12 members of Legislative assembly of Maharashtra were suspended for a period of one year on the basis of grossly disorderly conduct in monsoon session i.e. july 2021.
Supreme Court has now revoked the suspension stating that the “A suspension beyond the remainder period of the ongoing session would not only be grossly irrational measure, but also violative of the basic democratic values owing to unessential deprivation of the member concerned, and more importantly, the constituency would remain unrepresented in the Assembly” in the words of Justice Khanwilkar.
Court further added if this is allowed thin majority coalition government could use such suspensions to manipulate the number of Opposition party members and that Opposition will not be able to effectively participate in discussions/debates in the House fearing suspension of its members for a longer period. Thus undermining the democratic Principle.
Suspension procedure laid down in Rule 53 of Maharastra LA:
Rule 53 only provides for the withdrawal of a member for the remainder of the day or in case of repeat misconduct in the same session, for the remainder of the session.
Court said the ground of suspension was "grossly disorderly” should be considered in a graded manner and it is not a punishment like expulsion but more a direction to ensure that the business of the House can be carried on smoothly, without any disruption
Judicial review allowed or not?
Supreme Court said that procedures are not immune to judicial scrutiny and are open to judicial review on the touchstone of being unconstitutional, grossly illegal, irrational or arbitrary.
Can the MLAs be suspended for a period of one year
SC quoted Article 190 (4) of the Constitution, says, “If for a period of sixty days a member of a House of the Legislature of a State is without permission of the House absent from all meetings thereof, the House may declare his seat vacant.”
The Representation of the People Act, 1951:
Under Section 151 (A) of RPA,1951, “a bye-election for filling any vacancy… [in the House] shall be held within a period of six months from the date of the occurrence of the vacancy”.
This intends to say that that barring exceptions specified under this section, no constituency can remain without a representative for more than six months.
Court thus said anything in excess of that would be irrational suspension entailing deprivation of the constituency from being represented in the House.
Similar Rules in Parliament:
Rules 373, 374, and 374A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business of Lok Sabha has a provision for withdrawal of a member whose conduct is grossly disorderly and suspension of the member who abuses the rule or wilfully misconduct. However the suspension for this is for five consecutive sittings or the remainder of the session, whichever is less
Rules 255 and 256 provides for the suspension however not beyond the ongoing session.