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Opposition knocks Guv’s door

MPF submits memo on Speaker removal demand

SHILLONG: The ongoing tussle between the State government and Opposition parties over removal of the State Assembly Speaker AT Mondal reached Kolkata with   Meghalaya People’s Front (MPF) lodging a complaint before Meghalaya Governor   Keshari Nath Tripathi against the manner in which the no-trust motion against the Speaker was not allowed to be taken up in the Assembly.
The MPF leader James Sangma met Tripathi in Kolkata on March 27 and submitted a memorandum.
In the memorandum submitted to the Governor, Leader of Opposition Donkupar Roy and NPP MLA James Sangma said that on March 10, four legislators had given a notice to the Speaker about the no-confidence motion based on Article 179 of the Constitution of India read with Rule 135 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly.
“The Speaker first feigned ignorance but in the afternoon sitting of March 10 , announced that he received such a notice for his removal from office of Speaker,” the memorandum said.
According to memorandum, on March 11, James K. Sangma was called to move the motion for which 12 other members stood in support and the motion got leave of the House and the Speaker announced that it would be taken up for consideration and disposal on March 25 as the motion needed to complete the mandatory two weeks period specified in article 179 of the Constitution of India.
The memorandum said that they were sure that the motion would gain the support of more than the simple majority of the House cutting across party lines on March 25, the day the motion for removal of Speaker was slated for disposal.
The letter further said that sensing trouble at the hands of the Deputy Speaker belonging to NCP presiding over the sitting on March 25 during the proceedings on the motion for removal of Speaker, the Chief Minister pressured the Deputy Speaker to resign on March 23 and reconstituted the Panel of Chairmen through the Speaker on March 24, to ease out inconvenient Martin Danggo from the Panel of Chairmen and to substitute him by Chief Minister’s wife.
The letter further said that Deputy Speaker Sanbor Shullai of the NCP sent in his resignation to the Speaker on the March 23 and the Speaker, much against the canons of Constitutional norms and jurisprudence, accepted his resignation despite being conscious of the fact that a Speaker over whom a motion for his own removal is hanging, is morally incapable of taking such significant decisions.
“A Speaker against whom a motion for removal is pending is also morally incapable of causing a vacancy in the office of the Deputy Speaker when under the Constitution, the Deputy Speaker alone is supposed to be presiding over the proceedings on the motion for removal of the Speaker,”the letter said.
The Meghalaya People’s Front   further said that even in the case of resignation of an ordinary member of the House, the Constitution of India [proviso to article 190(3)] compels the Speaker to reject such a resignation if it is found, on inquiry, that the resignation has been spurred by ulterior motives and not voluntary.
“Here, a Speaker under cloud, gleefully accepts the resignation of the Deputy Speaker, in a political ambience surcharged with suspicions, in order to extricate himself from the fair and objective clutches of the Deputy Speaker on the day on which his own removal motion would be considered by the House with the ulterior motive of preventing the Deputy Speaker from chairing such a sitting,” letter said, adding the proceedings of March 25 on the motion for removal of Speaker was vitiated by this mala fide action of the Speaker.
The memorandum further said that without any qualms for moral rectitude, the Speaker announced in the House on March 24, a day before his fate was to be decided, that he was reconstituting the Panel of Chairmen, from amongst whom the senior most in the order, is supposed to chair the proceedings on the motion for removal of Speaker.
The Panel of Chairmen of the Meghalaya Assembly on March 11 were Martin Danggo  (Congress),  Ronnie Lyngdoh (Congress) Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP) and Nihim D. Shira (NPP)
The Speaker announced the new Panel of Chairmen on March 24 to save himself on March 25 and the names were Dikkanchi D. Shira (Congress), Ronnie Lyngdoh (Congress), Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP) and Nihim D. Shira (NPP)
The Opposition also accused the Speaker of telling a lie in the House saying that the Speaker informed the House on March 24 that he was reconstituting the Panel of Chairmen since the first member in the old Panel of Chairmen, Martin Danggo would not be able to attend the House in view of his medical treatment.
However, on March 25, Danggo was very well present in the House and participated in the proceedings proving that the Speaker lied to the House, the Opposition said.
According to the Opposition, Danggo was eased out of the Panel as the Chief Minister did not trust him too well and the job of chairing the sitting on March 25 on the motion for removal of Speaker could not have been assigned to him.
“The power to reconstitute the Panel of Chairmen, one of whom would preside over the Speaker’s removal motion, certainly does not belong to the Speaker who is facing the removal motion as usurpation of such a power is pregnant with biasness and mala fides and thereby the entire proceedings under the new panel of chairmen stood vitiated,” the complaint said.
The Opposition leaders further pointed out that strangely, the Speaker who, while reconstituting the Panel of Chairmen, against ethics, norms and constitutional niceties, replaced the first name of Martin Danggo by the name of. Dikkanchi D. Shira (CM’s wife), but called out on March 25 the second name in the panel Ronnie Lyngdoh to chair the proceedings on the motion for his removal.
“If at all the second member from the panel had to be called to chair the proceedings, the Speaker need not have reconstituted the panel of Chairman,” he said.
The letter also said that the motion for removal of the Speaker, a keenly contested one, for which the Deputy Speaker had to resign and the Speaker, against constitutional propriety reconstituted the Panel of Chairmen a day before the removal motion was taken up for voting, was disposed off by the Chairman Ronnie Lyngdoh  despite the mover, James  sought a division, adding, as per the procedure outlined in Rule 292 of the Rules of Procedure of the House, as it is provided for in the Rules of Procedure of all Legislatures in India including Parliament, if a voice vote is challenged by any member for division, the motion shall not be disposed of by voice vote but by recorded vote.
The letter also said that the Presiding Officer disregarded this rule when James K. Sangma sought a division of votes on the motion which is a serious flaw constituting illegality supplemented by mala fides, perversities and partisanship.
The motion for removal of Speaker is not merely guided by the Rules of Procedure of the House but emanates as a source of strength to neutrality of the office of the Speaker from the provisions of the Constitution as aforesaid and therefore the actions of the Speaker (in accepting the resignation of the Deputy Speaker and reconstituting the Panel of Chairmen) and the actions of the Chairman Ronnie Lyngdoh  in rejecting the demand for division by the mover of the motion James K. Sangma, cannot be conveniently covered under Parliamentary privileges under article 194 read with article 212 which talks about “irregularity”. ,” the complaint letter further added.
The Meghalaya Peoples’ Front asked the Governor to call for the print and video records of the Assembly on March 25, the records of the receipt, processing and acceptance of the resignation of the Deputy
Speaker, records of the appointment of the old and new panel of Chairmen; and urged him not to prorogue the House until justice to the movers of the motion for removal of Speaker is provided.
According to the Front, in case the rescission of the acceptance of the resignation of Deputy Speaker is impossible, the Governor was asked to appoint another impartial member of the House, especially an independent MLA, to preside over the proceedings on the motion for removal of Speaker since the office of Deputy Speaker is vacant and  Article 180(2) cannot be practiced but only article 180(1) besides dismissing the Government headed by Mukul Sangma for making a mockery of the Constitutional processes in the House by pressuring the Deputy Speaker to resign, by nominating his own wife to the Panel of Chairmen, by protecting his protégé in the Office of Speaker by not allowing a division in the House on the motion for removal of Speaker and for murdering democracy at all levels.

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