Three Trinamool MLAs disqualified by Speaker invoking anti-defection law

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IMPHAL, May 27: In a sensational judgment on the confusing controversy within the State Trinamool Congress with several leaders claiming to be the legitimate president, three MLAs of the party were disqualified by the Speaker of the Tenth Manipur Legislative Assembly, Th. Lokeshwar Singh.

The Speaker, acting as tribunal and citing paragraph 2(1)(a) of the Tenth Schedule read with Article 191(2) of the Constitution, the Speaker declared `Shri Khumukcham Joykishan Singh, MLA, 9-Thangmeiband Assembly Constituency and Shri Thongam Biswajit Singh, MLA, 5-Thongju Assembly Constituency and Shri Oinam Lukhoi singh, MLA, 22-Wangoi Assembly Constituency are hereby disqualified for (sic) being members of the Tenth Manipur Legislative Assembly.`

In the same ruling the Speaker also said these three Assembly seats will henceforth be treated as vacant.

The petitioner against all three disqualified MLAs is former party colleague, Thounaojam Shyamkumar, MLA, Andro Assembly Constituency.

The charge which the respondents were penalised for is that `in view of the discussions made hereinabove, an inference can eb irresistibly be drawn that the respondents have manifestly expressed their intention to give up their membership of their original Political party, i.e. AITC with headquarters in Kolkata and its State unit i.e. MPTCC. Their intention is confirmed by their acts/actions and admission mentioned above and that apart, formation of a new Political party called as AITC, Manipur State, with headquarters at Imphal, which has a separate Constitution and its State Political party called as MPTC is well established.`

The judgment concluded that `conversely put, the respondents by their own admissions, have substantiated the contentions of the petitioners.`

The lengthy judgment, spanning 31 typed sheets, gives a winding account of the history of not just the present case, but also of the 10th Schedule and its application in different cases through its history. In particular, it cites the Supreme Court ruling in the case of Kihoto Hollohan vs Zachillhu case in 1992, where the apex court deliberated at length on the `evil of political defection` and the `role of political parties in the political process.`

The ruling also depends substantially on the reportage of the charges and counter charges regarding the case in local newspapers.

It may be recalled disqualification cases had been pending against four Trinamool MLAs, but one MLA, Maibam Kunjo singh, had expired on August 11, 2014 and his case was closed.

Earlier the Speaker offered his apology for the delay in the ruling as he had been away on official foreign tour as well as other preoccupations of his office.

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