Speaker facing the axe can’t disqualify MLAs, says SC [Polity]
- A Speaker should refrain from deciding the disqualification of MLAs for defection under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution if he himself is facing prospect of removal, the Supreme Court has held.
- A Constitution Bench observed that ruling was a safeguard against a Speaker using the disqualification proceedings of legislators for his own political ends.
- A Speaker, under threat of losing his position, may choose to disqualify MLAs to alter the composition of the House in his favour. Article 179 of the Constitution was interpreted in a judgment on the Arunachal Pradesh crisis recently.
- If a Speaker truly enjoys the support of the House’s majority, there would be no difficulty whatsoever to demonstrate the confidence which the members of the State Legislature repose in him.
- Article 179 deals with the “vacation and resignation of, and removal from, the offices of Speaker and Deputy Speaker”.
- Article 179(c) provides that a Speaker (or Deputy Speaker) “may be removed from his office by a resolution of the Assembly passed by a majority of all the then members of the Assembly”.
- The judgment points to the phrase “all the then members of the Assembly” to conclude that the composition of legislators should remain the very same while deciding whether a majority in the House wants the Speaker to continue or not.
- Further, the court said MLAs so disqualified by the Speaker would be subsequently deprived of the opportunity to participate in the motion against the Speaker himself under Article 179(c).