New Delhi, Aug 8:
In a stand that may spell difficulty for the Congress party if its demand for being given the post of the leader of opposition is rejected by Lok Sabha Speaker Sumitra Mahajan, the Supreme Court Friday said that a decision taken by the speaker in the House is not open to judicial review.
“A ruling given by Speaker in the chamber of the House is not amenable to judicial review,” said an apex court bench of Chief Justice R.M. Lodha, Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rohinton Fali Nariman.
The apex court’s position that the ruling by the speaker is not open to judicial review has come as a jolt to the Congress, which is mulling the option of moving the court if it is denied the post of the leader of opposition.
The court said this while dismissing as withdrawn a PIL challenging the ruling by the first speaker of the Lok Sabha, G.V. Mavalankar, that for an opposition party to be recognised so with its leader being the leader of opposition it must have a minimum of 10 percent seats of the sanctioned strength of the House.
Mavalankar was Lok Sabha speaker from May 15, 1952, to Feb 27, 1956.
“The ruling by Mavalankar is not notified and it is not anywhere. Can such a ruling be amenable to judicial review,” asked the Chief Justice Lodha.
Asking the petitioner advocate M.L. Sharma to bring the material and raise a legal issue for examination by it, the court admonished him saying that “without any homework, without any material, you want it (speaker’s ruling) to be quashed”.
In an obvious caution to Sharma, court said: “This is becoming too much and too much has its repercussions.”
Sharma had moved the apex court seeking that the Congress leader in Lok Sabha be conferred the status of the leader of opposition as it is the largest party in the opposition, as provided under the 1977 law on salary and allowances of leaders of opposition in parliament.
He had contested the opinion given by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the Congress leader in Lok Sabha could not be treated as leader of opposition as the party does not have a minimum of 55 seats that it should have to be accorded the status of recognised opposition party.
To back up his position, Rohatgi had referred to the first Lok Sabha speaker Mavalankar’s ruling which said that to hold the proceedings of the house, minimum of 10 percent members of the total strength should be present and that should also be the minimum strength of the main opposition party to be recognised as principal opposition party and its leader as leader of opposition.
Sharma in his PIL had contended that the question of the leader of opposition in Lok Sabha could not be mixed up with the statutory provision which says that party securing 10 percent of the total strength of the Lok Sabha could only be accorded the status of the recognised opposition party in lower house.
“The criteria of the leader of opposition has to be read in conformity with Section 2 of the Salary and Allowances of Leaders of Opposition in Parliament Act, 1977 and cannot be substituted with the concept of recognized parties as advised by the Attorney General,” said Sharma in his PIL.