Kolkata: The Calcutta High Court on Tuesday directed the Speaker of the West Bengal Assembly Biman Banerjee to settle the disqualification petition moved by BJP MLA Suvendu Adhikari on an urgent basis and submit it before the Court on the next date of hearing on October 7.
The direction was issued during the hearing of the plea moved by BJP MLA Ambika Roy challenging the appointment of Mukul Roy as the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the West Bengal Legislative Assembly.
A Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj, criticising the role of the Speaker in this disqualification issue, observed, “Maximum three months period has been prescribed by Hon’ble Supreme Court for decision of any such petition, which has already expired. The objective and purpose of the Tenth Schedule is to curb the evil of political defections motivated by the lure of office, which endangers the foundation of our democracy. The disqualification takes place from the date when the act of defection took place. The constitutional authorities who have been conferred with various powers are in fact coupled with duties and responsibilities to maintain the constitutional values. In case they fail to discharge their duties within time, it will endanger the democratic set up”.
“The Speaker was required to decide the petition filed before him for disqualification of the respondent No. 2 (Mukul Roy) having defected from BJP to AITC, as a result of which his membership to the Assembly itself was in doubt. In case the respondent No. 2 (Mukul Roy) does not remain the Member of the Assembly, there was no question of him being even the Member of the Committee what to talk of its chairman”, the court observed.
It was further observed that it is the duty of the Court to protect the Constitution and that if a constitutional authority fails to efficiently discharge his duties, then the Court has every right to intervene. It was also noted that the Speaker in discharge of his constitutional duties is expected to be neutral.
The controversy cropped up after Mukul Roy was appointed the Chairman of the Public Accounts Committee on July 9. A plea was filed in the court challenging the appointment of Roy because according to the petitioner Roy who won from Krishna Nagar North Assembly constituency on a BJP ticket joined the TMC without resigning from the BJP or as the MLA from his constituency.