Division Bench refers PIL to full Bench
SHILLONG: A division bench of the Meghalaya High Court on Friday while referring a PIL, seeking disqualification of legislators holding dual post, to a full bench headed by Chief Justice Uma Nath Singh for the final decision asked the Meghalaya Governor to take “appropriate action” against the dual-post holders.
“This question is left to the competent authority under Article 192 of the Constitution of India to take appropriate decision in his wisdom as to the disqualification of MLA holding the dual post in view of the “Prevention of Disqualification (Members of Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) (Amendment) Act, 2015,” the division bench comprising Justice T Nandakumar Singh and Justice SR Sen said in the order.
The order came a day after Governor V Shanmuganathan gave his assent to the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Bill, 2015, which prevents MLAs from holding another elected office in either of the three autonomous district councils.
It may be mentioned that the Article 192 of the Constitution refers to disqualifications of members: (1) If any question arises as to whether a member of a House of the Legislature of a State has become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in clause (1) of Article 191, the question shall be referred for the decision of the Governor and his decision shall be final.
The Article also states that before giving any decision on any such question the Governor shall obtain the opinion of the Election Commission and shall act according to such opinion.
The Governor will have to examine article 191(1)(a) in the Constitution whether a “person holds any office of profit under the Government of India or the Government of any State specified in the First Schedule, other than an office declared by the Legislature of the State by law not to disqualify its holder.
“We are of the considered view that such important issues are required to be decided by the full bench. Registry is directed to place this matter before the Chief Justice for his pleasure to constitute the Bench,” the bench said in the directive while responding to a PIL filed by Agnes Kharshiing.
The High Court also said that on bare perusal of the Prevention of Disqualification (Members of the Legislative Assembly of Meghalaya) Amendment Bill, 2015, it appears that the present MLAs who hold the dual post of Chairman, Executive Member and other Executive Member, or ordinary member of a District Council or any member nominated in District Council are no more protected from disqualification.
While the next hearing on the matter has been fixed on October 14, the division bench has also directed the Registry to intimate the Governor, the Special Law Secretary and the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly secretary.