Monday, May 27, 2024

HC dismisses Adelbert’s plea against Speaker


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SHILLONG, April 24: The High Court of Meghalaya on Wednesday dismissed a writ petition filed by Voice of the People Party’s North Shillong MLA, Adelbert Nongrum under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, assailing the action of the Speaker in not allowing him to move a Special Motion under Rule 130A of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly during the Budget Session held in February 2024.
Nongrum had moved the special motion seeking the Chair’s permission to take up discussions on the CAG report on the Social and Economic sectors for the year ending 31.03.2022, for Meghalaya.
During the hearing, the court observed that there is a restriction on courts to inquire into the proceedings of the Legislature as per Article 212 of the Constitution of India, and asked the counsel for the petitioner to satisfy the court on the question of the maintainability of the petition.
The counsel for the petitioner, P Yobin, while referring to Article 212 submitted that the writ petition has not been filed on the ground of any alleged irregularity of procedure, which would surely bar the jurisdiction of the court, but the challenge is directed  against the action of the Speaker in curtailing the right of the petitioner as given in Article 194(1) of the Constitution.
Yobin further submitted that there is no rule regulating the procedure of the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly that restricts or prohibits discussion on a report of the CAG in the House, and which would qualify as a condition subjecting the privilege of the members of the Legislature, which has been guaranteed under Article 194(1) of the Constitution, to any restriction.
The counsel also asserted that the petitioner was denied reconsideration by the Speaker on his decision to disallow a special motion to discuss the CAG report, even though Rule 130A of the Rules of Conduct and Procedure of the Assembly provides that special motion should get precedent over other motions or any matter of urgent importance.
He also submitted that the Speaker should have allowed the special motion under Rule 130A of the Rules of Conduct and Procedure of the Assembly, being of grave public importance.
Advocate-General Amit Kumar, appearing for the respondent (Assembly Speaker), strongly refuted the submissions of the counsel for the petitioner, and submitted that the writ petitioner by way of the instant writ petition is seeking to regulate the procedure of the Legislature by the court.
Strong emphasis was laid on the mandate of Article 212 of the Constitution, to drive home the point that what has been assailed in the writ petition is the decision of the Speaker, who has made the same in the course of business of the House, which cannot be questioned before the courts.
The Advocate-General further submitted that the reason for disallowing the discussion was that the report in question was still under scrutiny before the Public Accounts Committee, which had been constituted as per Rule 241 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business, and that nothing illegal or unconstitutional can be attributed to the action of the Speaker.
The court later stated that the decision of the Speaker in not allowing the special motion cannot be held to be illegal or unconstitutional, notwithstanding the fact that the subject matter involves a matter of grave public importance.
“Judicial review therefore, not being available by virtue of the application of Article 212 of the Constitution, this writ petition is not entertained and is accordingly dismissed,” the court said.


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