‘Selection rather than election’, Maha BJP MLA moves SC against Speaker election rules

New Delhi:- A Maharashtra BJP MLA has moved the Supreme Court challenging the Legislative Assembly notification, which amended Rule 6 and Rule 7 of MLA rules, laying down the procedure for the election of Speaker and Deputy Speaker.

The appeal has been filed by Girish Dattatraya Mahajan through advocate Abhikalp Pratap Singh. Mahajan moved the top court challenging the Bombay High Court, which through a judgment on March 9, dismissed his PIL. Mahajan’s plea said: “Impugned Notification has arbitrarily and undemocratically changed the procedure of the election of the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker, the procedure is now a procedure of selection rather than election.”

The petitioner sought a stay on the notification issued by the Maharashtra government on December 23, 2021.

The petitioner contended that the notification gives arbitrary power to the chief minister to himself decide and recommend the date for election of the Speaker of state Assembly. However, as per the old rules the Governor fixed a date for the election of Speaker.

The plea said: “The calling of the election of the Speaker — who is the head of the Assembly (and not the State Government/Ruling Party), is the discretion of the Governor. It is submitted that the Impugned Notification is in violation of Article 163(1) of the Constitution of India as the function under Rule 6 of the MLA Rules, i.e., to call for Election of the Speaker is a function on which he is not bound by the aid and advise of the Council of Ministers which is similar to the last part of the Article 163(1) of the Constitution.”

The plea said the election of the Speaker in a state Assembly directly impacts democracy and administration. It further contended that the Speaker has several powers and duty for smooth running of such Assembly, however, if the Speaker himself is elected by undemocratic means then the free and fair functioning of the state Assembly can easily be hampered by the ruling party.

The plea added that the selection of the Deputy Speaker with the method enumerated in notification would lead to favouritism and bias in the House. “The notification will allow selection of the Deputy Speaker instead of a free and fair election and the same is therefore in clear violation of the Article 178 of the Constitution of India, which states that that every Legislative Assembly of a state shall choose two members of the assembly to be respectively Speaker and Deputy Speaker thereof,” added the plea.

The plea added, “The order is unconstitutional and undemocratic for adopting a different procedure for appointment of the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the Assembly by changing the Rules, which was in existence from 1960 till date in the State of Maharashtra.”

The high court dismissed the PIL observing that the rules do not specify anywhere that the Chief Minister is unilaterally taking a decision to appoint Speaker and deputy Speaker and that he is taking decision on the date of election.