Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Suvendu Adhikari on Monday moved the Calcutta high court seeking disqualification of the party’s former national vice-president Mukul Roy as a member of the West Bengal legislative assembly.
Roy, who joined the BJP in 2017 and returned to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) on June 11 this year, has not yet officially resigned from the BJP. He has been made chairman of the public accounts committee (PAC) of the assembly, a post traditionally enjoyed by an Opposition party legislator.
“We want Roy to be disqualified under anti-defection law. Our petition cites a verdict of the Supreme Court which gave speakers three months to take a decision on petitions for disqualification,” Adhikari, who is leader of the opposition in the Bengal assembly, said after filing the petition. “In our case, four months have passed,” he added.
On June 18, Adhikari, submitted a petition to the speaker saying Roy, the legislator from Kishnanagar North constituency in Nadia district, should be disqualified under anti-defection law. Roy was appointed as PAC chairman by speaker Biman Banerjee on July 9.
Mukul Roy, who is unwell, could not be contacted.
Transport minister Firhad Hakim said, “Adhikari has moved court to seek publicity. He should know that in parliamentary affairs only the speaker takes these decisions.”
Adhikari is not the first BJP leader to move the Calcutta high court on this issue.
On August 24, BJP legislator Ambika Roy told the court that Mukul Roy’s appointment as PAC chairman violates a five-decade-old convention under which opposition party members get the post.
While hearing Ambika Roy’s petition last month, the two-judge division bench of acting Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Rajarshi Bharadwaj said the appeal for Mukul Roy’s disqualification was lying before the speaker and not the court.
Appearing for Ambika Roy, senior advocate CS Vaidyanathan told the court that the speaker incorrectly assumed that Mukul Roy was in the BJP when he filed his nomination papers on June 25 for the chairmanship of the PAC.
“Power exercised by the speaker must not be arbitrary. I will proceed on the assumption that Mukul Roy has defected from the BJP. A disqualification petition filed in June should not be delayed unnecessarily,” Vaidyanathan told the court on August 24.
Vaidyanathan also told the court that in January last year a three-judge Supreme Court bench, comprising Justice RF Nariman, Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice V Ramasubramaniam, ruled that speakers of assemblies and the Parliament must declare their decisions on disqualification petitions within three months.
The decision to disqualify a member is taken only by the speaker. The Constitution does not specify any time frame for the process which involves inquiry and setting up of a committee. The Bengal assembly speaker has already initiated the process and four hearings have taken place.
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