NEW DELHI, India: The Supreme Court declined to stay both the orders of Punjab Assembly Speaker in disqualifying 22 legislators belonging to the Akali Dal Badal and’ the State’s High Court order upholding the validity of 52nd constitutional amendment to anti defection law while admitting a special leave petition.

The court however directed that disqualified legislators if they so desire would be permitted to vote in the presidential election if it took place during the pendency of the appeal as if they were not disqualified as members of Punjab Assembly. If the disqualified legislators do exercise their right of vote in the Presidential poll then their votes would be kept separately and the court’s direction may be taken before counting them the court pointed out.

Describing the question of law raised in the petition as of great importance, the court directed its hearing by a constitution bench as an urgent matter. The parties are at liberty to mention before the Chief Justice for an early hearing of the case. The division bench comprising of Justice P.C. Ray admitted the petition after hearing heated arguments and counter arguments over two hours in the packed court. The petition was directed against the judgment of May 1st by Punjab High Court upholding the validity of 52nd constitutional amendment and notices issued to 27 legislators in June last year asking to show cause as to why they should not be disqualified from the Assembly on the ground of violating the directive for the election of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

The High Court by upholding the validity of the anti-defection law by 32 majorities unanimously struck down the clause 7 of the law which debarred the scrutiny of the speaker action by the court. The judgment was followed by the disqualification of 22 legislators in two installments by the Speaker.

Article extracted from this publication >>  May 15, 1987