From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Suspension of MLAs
Mains level : Read the attached story
- Some legislators were suspended for one year by the Maharashtra Assembly for alleged disorderly conduct.
- The unusually long period of suspension has been questioned by the Supreme Court, which is hearing a challenge to the Assembly’s action.
A case in apex court
- The court has reserved its judgment after hearing elaborate arguments.
- The main question before the court is whether suspension for a whole year is valid.
Suspending MLAs: A fact check
- Each state has their individual rules for the conduct of assembly. These rules provides for the suspension of MLAs.
- Under Rule 53 of the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly Rules, 1960, only the Speaker has the power to suspend MLAs indulging in unruly behavior.
- Therefore, the motion to suspend cannot be put to vote as this would allow the Government to suspend as many Members of Opposition as it sees fit.
Constitutional ground behind this suspension
- The Court referred to Article 190 (4) of the Constitution which says that if for a period of 60 days, a member of a House, without its permission, is absent; the House may declare his or her seat vacant.
- Suspension of MLAs beyond this period would lead to their disqualification.
What did the Supreme Court observe?
- Suspension of the MLAs would amount to punishing the constituencies as a whole.
- Each constituency has equal amount of right to be represented in the House, observed the court.
- The apex court observed that any state cannot create a constitutional void, a hiatus situation for any constituency.
- It said the House cannot suspend a member beyond 59 days.
What does the State government say?
- Counsel for the State government has argued that there is no limitation on the power of the legislature to punish for breach of privilege or disorderly conduct in the course of its proceedings.
- Once the power to punish a member for disorderly conduct is recognized, there can be no judicial review of the manner in which it is exercised.
- Further, during suspension, a member continues to hold office, but only loses their voice in the legislature.