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Amendment Bill against dual posts tabled in House

SHILLONG: Members in the House cutting across party lines have made varied suggestions on the proposed Amendment Bill prohibiting legislators from holding dual posts even as the Government on Wednesday introduced the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
The Bill, if passed on Thursday in the House, will be effective from October 1 and as many as seven legislators, who are holding duals posts as MLAs and MDCs, will have to resign.
Senior member H.D.R. Lyngdoh, incidentally, tendered his resignation as KHADC MDC on Wednesday evening.
Earlier, when the Bill was about to be introduced in the House, Opposition Leader Donkupar Roy, while raising a point of order, said that since the issue of dual posts was pending in the High Court, it should be treated as sub judice.
“If the Bill is introduced, does it not mean that the Assembly is already giving a verdict on the matter pending with the Court?” Roy questioned, while indicating that the decision of the House may also influence the verdict of the Court.
According to Roy, the matter should not be decided in the House. “Let us wait for the ruling of the Court,” he said.
However, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said that all the aspects were examined with the Law department before taking up the Bill.
Stating that the matter was not sub judice, Sangma said that the Bill was brought to the Assembly since the High Court had asked the Governor to take a decision on the issue of dual posts by September 29.
However, Roy said that the Opposition wanted details of the direction of the High Court.
He also pointed that though there is a court direction,   the Governor can give the views in a different   way and not by proposing the Bill.
Deputy Chief Minister in charge Law, Rowell Lyngdoh, said that the issue was not sub judice since the Government was only following the legislative matter. “The Court has advised the Governor to take a decision and hence, it was brought to the House as it was a legislative matter,” he added.
K.P. Pangniang (HSPDP), who is also an MDC, mentioned that he was one of the victims of the dual posts issue and urged the Government not to take any hasty decision to introduce the Bill.
Pynshngain N Syiem (Congress), also the Chief Executive Member of the KHADC, said that though he was not against the introduction of the Bill, this can be made effective only after the completion of the present term. He also deplored the omission of entry no. 9 from the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Act 1972.
Entry no. 9 has the provision for the Chairman, CEM, MDCs or any nominated member of the district councils to contest the elections to the Assembly or to the Lok Sabha. However, if they are elected to the Assembly or the Lok Sabha, they have to vacate their posts in the Councils. However, by convention, they continue to hold both the posts.
According to the KHADC CEM, the decision of the Government to bring the amended Bill would go against the will of the voters who had elected the MDCs.
Syiem suggested the need to send the Bill before the Select Committee of the Assembly and further wanted the Court to decide on the pending matter.
Syiem also pointed out that the District Councils should have been taken into confidence before planning the Bill.
Some members pointed out that the timing of the Bill was inappropriate.
Paul Lyngdoh (UDP), while appreciating the need for legislation against the dual posts, pointed out that the very vital ingredient of democratic practice in the whole exercise was missing.
“The members had sought election to the district councils when they were not barred from contesting the polls,” Lyngdoh said.
According to Lyngdoh, the legislation should be given from the prospective effect after the expiry of the current term and not from the retrospective effect.
The chief minister responded, saying that due consideration was done from all perspectives while   framing the legislation. “After discussion, proper amendment can be made based on the views of the members. However, the time is appropriate and we cannot further delay it,” the chief minister said.
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Prestone Tynsong said that members should allow introduction of the Bill first and subsequently whether to send the Bill to the Select Committee or more amendments should be incorporated before passing the Bill can be discussed.
Metbah Lyngdoh (UDP) admitted that he had even felt guilty of holding dual posts, but added that he had contested the KHADC polls since the law permitted it.
Metbah wanted the Bill to be sent either to a Select Committee or it should be made applicable after the expiry of the current term.
Ardent Basaiawmoit (HSPDP) said that though he intended to resign as MDC, it was due to pressure of the people that he continued as MDC. He also added that the law should be made effective from the expiry of the current term.
D.D. Lapang (Congress) said the members were not against the spirit of the Bill. “What I suggest is that members should allow it to be introduced and then hold discussion to decide whether the Bill should be referred to a Select Committee or not.”
Before the Bill was introduced by Deputy Chief Minister in charge Law, Rowell Lyngdoh, Assembly Speaker A.T. Mondal said that he analyzed the implications of the Bill as far as the sub judice part was concerned and discussed the same with the leader of the House.
“The Bill was brought after the direction of the High Court of Meghalaya and the Bill deals with only the legislative part,” Mondal said.
The Speaker further added that the members can submit amendments, if any, till 5 pm on Wednesday and “let the House decide whether to pass the Bill or send it to a Select Committee.”

Options before the House today
 Pass the Bill with effect from Oct. 1  
 Refer it to a Select Committee
 Pass the Bill with prospective effect from 2019
 Pass the Bill with  prospective effect from 2016

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