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Ministers Appointment In MP: SC Lists Congress MLA's Plea For Final Hearing

Ministers Appointment In MP: SC Lists Congress MLA's Plea For Final Hearing

The Supreme Court on Tuesday listed for final hearing a plea contending that Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs who resigned the party and joined BJP cannot be appointed as ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government during the pendency of their disqualification proceedings. However, the top court refused to entertain a fresh plea challenging the appointment of 14 ministers in the MP government on the ground that they were non-legislators at the time when they were sworn in.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday listed for final hearing a plea contending that Madhya Pradesh Congress MLAs who resigned the party and joined BJP cannot be appointed as ministers in the Shivraj Singh Chouhan government during the pendency of their disqualification proceedings. However, the top court refused to entertain a fresh plea challenging the appointment of 14 ministers in the MP government on the ground that they were non-legislators at the time when they were sworn in.

A bench headed by Chief Justice S A Bobde said that it would hear on November 4, a plea filed by Congress MLA Vinay Saxena after it was informed that the assembly speaker has already dismissed the disqualification petitions against the Congress MLAs, who have joined BJP government. List the matter on November 4, for final disposal, the bench also comprising Justices A S Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Assembly speaker, informed the top court that speaker has already decided the disqualification petitions pending against 22 such Congress MLAs. The bench told senior counsels appearing for Saxena that We are told that the speaker has already passed an order. If that is the case then this petition has become infructous. The counsel said that these ministers cannot be appointed till the disqualification proceedings against them was pending. The bench then said it would hear the matter in the month of November. In an affidavit filed by MP assembly protem speaker Rameshwar Sharma, it was stated that the decision on disqualification petitions filed by Congress MLAs against those legislators who had joined BJP was taken within three months as fixed by the apex court in its verdict in another case. It said that disqualification petitions were dismissed on the ground that resignations of Congress MLAs, who have later joined BJP were accepted on March 10 and 15 by the then speaker. Dealing with the fresh petition filed by lawyer Aradhana Bhargava, the bench said that this plea cannot be entertained and petitioner can approach Madhya Pradesh High Court. Advocates S B Talekar and Vipin Nair, appearing for Bhargava said that they are challenging the appointment of such persons as ministers, who are not even legislators. The bench said that this is a self-serving argument that such persons cannot be appointed as Ministers.

Mehta said that the petitioners should approach the High Court with their grievances. The writ petition is allowed to be withdrawn with liberty to approach the Madhya Pradesh High Court. The writ petition is dismissed as withdrawn with liberty as prayed for, the bench said in its order. On September 22, the top court had asked the Speaker to apprise it as to when he would decide the disqualification petitions against 22 Congress MLAs who switched sides to the ruling Bhartiya Janta Party. The top court while hearing a plea filed by Saxena had said the speaker has to only make a statement as to when these applications will be decided. On August 17, the top court had sought response from the office of the speaker on the plea of Saxena which had contended that as per the apex court verdict in Manipur case, the disqualification proceedings have to be decided within a period of three months by the speaker. It had said that during the pendency of these disqualification applications, 12 out of 22 Congress MLAs who have resigned to join BJP have been appointed as ministers in the state government.

The plea said that the disqualification petitions have been pending against the rebel MLAs since March 12 but no proceedings have been initiated till now and the delay will amount to virtually defeating the very purpose of anti-defection law. On June 2, Chouhan carried out a major expansion of his cabinet, including 28 new members, a dozen of them former Congress MLAs whose rebellion contributed to the collapse of Kamal Nath led Congress government in the state.

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