Soon after the Supreme Court quashed the suspension of 12 Opposition legislators from the Maharashtra Legislative Assembly for one year, the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) reacted cautiously while the Bharatiya Janata Party was euphoric, here on Friday.
The Shiv Sena-Nationalist Congress Party-Congress leaders termed the suspension as a decision of the legislature which had the power to take the action though the BJP said the apex court verdict was a ‘tight slap’ on the MVA government.
“The Maharashtra Legislature has the power to suspend MLAs or, for that matter the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha can suspend MPs, it is well within their powers,” said Sena MP and Chief Spokesperson Sanjay Raut.
The NCP’s senior ministers — State Party President Jayant Patil and National Spokesperson Nawab Malik — said now it is an issue of the “jurisdictions of the court and the legislative bodies, concerning legislatures across the country and the Parliament”.
“The decision to suspend the legislators was of the Speaker and not the (MVA) government. The State Legislature Secretariat will study the order after which the Speaker would take a call in the matter,” Malik added.
Congress State President Nana Patole – himself an ex-Speaker – said that the Legislature Secretariat will first study the SC order and the powers of the legislature before proceeding further.
Terming it as a “tight slap” on the MVA government, Leader of Opposition (Assembly) Devendra Fadnavis said it wasn’t only a question of 12 legislators but of more than five million citizens in those 12 constituencies.
“Right from the start, we have been saying that the suspensions were unconstitutional, unethical, unfair, undemocratic, illegal and gross misuse of the power to suspend our MLAs for such a long period (one year), without a valid reason, and to create an artificial majority. The SC has upheld our stance,” Fadnavis said.
Hitting back, Congress State Spokesperson Atul Londhe said the SC verdict was not a ‘clean chit’ and there was nothing for the BJP to indulge in celebrations like this.
“They should read Pt. No. 74 in which the SC has raised concerns about the rough behaviour of MLAs, cautioned how the masses are watching everything, their actions in the House and raising commoners’ issues. I don’t understand why the BJP is thinking that they are exonerated from such behaviour, abusing the Chair, the public expectations and the Assembly,” Londhe said in a sharp statement.
Raut added that any decision in the matter will be taken by the Assembly Speaker, who had given his ruling on the suspensions at that time after a scuffle in his chamber.
“I think it’s his (Speaker’s) right. Decisions are taken as per the laws and the Constitution. The suspended MLAs and their (BJP) party need to self-introspect,” Raut pointed out.
On July 5, 2021, during the Monsoon Session, 12 BJP MLAs were suspended for “misbehaving” and using “abusive language” vis-a-vis the then Presiding Officer Bhaskar Jadhav, during a discussion on OBC quotas in the House.
The move to suspend the one dozen Opposition MLAs sparked off a massive furore and the party has been repeatedly raising the issue with the MVA to revoke the suspension.
The legislators who were suspended are Ashish Shelar, Jaykumar Rawal, Atul Bhatkalkar, Parag Alvani, Girish Mahajan, Yogesh Sagar, Ram Satpute, Sanjay Kute, Abhimanyu Pawar, Shirish Pimple, Narayan Kuche, Kirtikumar Bagadia, and later Shelar, the BJP’s chief whip moved the apex court in the matter.
The BJP State President wondered whether the MVA government will go against the verdict of the 3-judge SC bench and urged them to comply with the orders.
Invoking ‘Satyameva Jayate’, Fadnavis welcomed the ‘historic’ ruling by the apex court in this matter which would save democratic values as the 12 MLAs were fighting for the cause of the OBCs when they were suspended. (IANS)