SC asks Speaker to decide on fate of NCP MLAs

Bhubaneswar: The Apex court on Thursday dismissed the special leave petition (SLP) moved by Odisha speaker Pradip Kumar Amat regarding the merger of four Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) MLAs with BJD and asked Amat to decide on validity of their membership in state legislative assembly within eight weeks.

“A three-member bench of the Supreme Court dismissing the Speaker’s SLP noted that any citizen of the country can raise disqualification issue of legislators. The SC has also directed the Speaker to take a decision in the merger issue of NCP legislators with BJD within eight weeks,” said Gopal Agrawal, a Supreme Court lawyer.

The move followed after the speaker filed an SLP in SC challenging an order of the Odisha High Court which asked the Speaker to decide on the validity of the MLAs’ membership in the house. Amat had questioned admissibility of the case that whether a citizen who is not a member of the house can raise the disqualification issue.

On judgement of the SC, NCP state president Utkal Keshari Parida said, “I expect the Speaker to maintain impartiality while deciding the matter.”

Meanwhile, Prashant Nanda and Amar Satpathy expressed that the Speaker’s decision will be final and they’ll obey it.

“Speaker is the master of the house and his decision is final,” said Nanda.

Odisha’s political scenario took a different turn on June 5 last when four NCP MLAs- Amar Prasad Satpathy (Barchana), Ramachandra Hansdah (Saraskana), Prashant Nanda (Begunia) and Nabin Nanda (Dhenkanal) joined their hands with the ruling BJD, less than a week after the failed coup bid by dissident MP Pyarimohan Mohaptra to topple the Naveen Patnaik government.

Terming the merger as violation of anti-defection law, Sharad Pawar-led NCP’s state head Parida wrote to the speaker on July 10, 2012 to disqualify the legislators’ membership. He also maintained that the four MLAs could be disqualified in tune with the Odisha Legislative Assembly (Disqualification on Ground of Defection) Rules, 1987.

Parida had then knocked HC doors after his plea was rejected by the speaker and the HC directed the Speaker to take a decision in the matter within eight weeks.