HC notice to Speaker on NCP MLAs disqualification writ

Cuttack: The Odisha High Court on Friday issued notice to the state Assembly speaker asking him to file his counter, if any, in response to a writ filed by the NCP seeking disqualification of all four party MLAs who had joined the ruling BJD in June.

After holding preliminary hearing, a division bench comprising Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S K Mishra directed that the notice would be served on the speaker by a special messenger and ordered to list the matter immediately for further hearing.

NCP state president Utkal Keshari Parida last month had asked Speaker Pradeep Kumar Amat to disqualify the four MLAs as they had voluntarily given up the membership of the party, which made them legislators. He moved the HC after Amat did not take any cognizance of his petition.

"When there was no split in the NCP and when there was no formal merger of the party with another party, giving up the memberships of the party by the elected legislators invite disqualification of their membership from the Assembly on the ground of defection as per the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution," Parida contended in his writ.

In the aftermath of a political turmoil in the state engineered by BJD Rajya Sabha member Pyari Mohan Mohapatra on May 29, the four NCP MLAs – Amar Prasad Satapathy, Nabin Nanda, Ramachandra Hansda and Prashanta Nanda – joined the BJD on June 4 apparently to strengthen Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik`s camp to counter the rebel BJD camp of Mohapatra.

Parida`s counsel Gopal Agarwal said Paragraph 2 (1) (a) of the Tenth Schedule says that a member of the House belonging to any political party shall be disqualified for being a member of the House if he has voluntarily given up his membership of such political party.