MLAs are all honourable men, says Supreme Court

March 12th, 2008 - 11:01 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

New Delhi, March 12 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday refused to advance the date set for the new Congress government in Meghalaya to prove its majority, dismissing allegations that the state governor was biased toward the Congress party. A bench headed by Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan dismissed Meghalaya Progressive Alliance’s (MPA) fears that the 10-day period given to new Chief Minister D.D. Lapang to prove his majority might help his Congress party wean away the alliance’s legislators.

Elections to the 60-seat assembly threw up a hung house, with the Congress emerging as the largest party with 25 seats. The MPA claims it has the support of 33 legislators and therefore should have been asked to form the government.

But the apex court did not think there would be any horse-trading.

“If you have got solid numbers, why do you worry?” asked the bench, which also included Justices R.V. Raveendran and Dalveer Bhandari.

“We proceed on the presumption that they (MLAs) all are honourable men. But on the other hand you tell us that they may not be so honourable and may be open to horse-trading,” remarked the bench before dismissing the concerns raised by MPA counsel and former attorney general Soli J Sorabjee.

“Why do you want to prepone (the date)? You must have confidence in your own people,” the bench advised while upholding the 10-day deadline set by state Governor S.S. Sidhu.

Congress leader Lapang was Monday sworn in as chief minister.

“We can interfere only if there are extreme circumstances,” said the bench.

“This is a new assembly, not an old one. If you advance the date then it will cause a lot of confusion,” it added.

The petition challenging the governor’s move was filed Tuesday by Sangma’s son Conrad K. Sangma, who questioned Sidhu’s decision to administer the oath to Lapang.

A newly elected Meghalaya legislator, Conrad told the court in his petition that the Congress was still six short of simple majority in the assembly.

On the other hand, the MPA - a post-poll alliance - had the support of 14 members of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), 11 of the United Democratic Party (UDP), two of the Hill State’s People’s Democratic party, one Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) legislator and five independents, he claimed.

The MPA elected Donkupar Roy as its leader and met the governor to stake claim to form the government but Sidhu, displaying a bias in favour of his own party, sought to install a Congress government instead, Sangma’s petition said.

Sangma termed the governor’s decision “unconstitutional, illegal, highly irrational and a dereliction of his constitutional duty.”

Sidhu’s move was aimed at “enabling the Congress to indulge in horse-trading and other unconstitutional means to survive the floor test,” Sangma alleged.

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