We cannot unseat legislators: apex court

January 5th, 2009 - 8:32 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Jan 5 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday said legislators cannot be unseated by courts and the appropriate authority for disqualifying a legislator is the presiding officer of the house he or she belongs to.A bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justice Makandey Katju and Justice P. Sathasivam made the observation while hearing a public interest lawsuit by Birendrah Singh, seeking direction for disqualification of Congress parliamentarian Moni Kumar Subba from Tezpur in Assam.

Singh argued that Subba is not an Indian citizen and belongs to Nepal from where he had allegedly fled after committing a crime.

“The courts cannot unseat legislators,” the bench observed, suggesting the petitioner approach the Lok Sabha speaker under the provisions of the Article 103 of the constitution to seek Subba’s disqualification.

The bench made the observation as the petitioner’s counsel Ambojh Kumar Sinha made a fervent plea to the apex court to disqualify Subba.

While rejecting Sinha’s plea to unseat the MP, the bench, however, asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to clarify its future course of action on the probe into Subba’s nationality and citizenship.

The petitioner had alleged that Subba’s original name was Mani Raj Limboo.

The CBI, which was earlier asked by the apex court to ascertain Subba’s citizenship, too has cast a doubt over Subba’s nationality saying that the parliamentarian’s birth certificate was not genuine.

Appearing for Subba, senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi argued that the Nepalese government had written letters to the CBI saying “Limboo” and “Subba” were two different persons and wanted the court’s direction to produce the Nepalese government’s letters in the court.

At this, Sinha contended that the CBI itself had found Subba’s nationality suspect and India did not need a certificate from the neighbouring government on whether he was an Indian national.

Sinha said that even if the court was reluctant to unseat Subba, it must direct the CBI to initiate criminal prosecution of the MP for filing various forged documents in the court to prove his Indian citizenship.

Additional Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam then sought time from the court to examine another affidavit filed by Subba and to decide its own course of action on evidence against Subba.

The court accordingly adjourned the matter for six weeks.

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