Calcutta HC Sets Aside Speaker's Order Dismissing Suvendu Adhikari's Petition For Disqualification Of Mukul Roy
Calcutta High Court on Monday set aside West Bengal Assembly Speaker Biman Banerjee's order dismissing a petition by Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari which sought disqualification of TMC lawmaker Mukul Roy as a member of the House on the ground of defection and restored the matter for fresh consideration.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Prakash Shrivastava and Justice R Bharadwaj said that in view of the speaker's failure to take into account and consider the certificate of evidence in support of his claim under Section 65-B of the Evidence Act and consequently hold the electronic evidence as inadmissible, has rendered Banerjee's order "perverse".
Setting aside the speaker's order of February 22 which had dismissed the petition filed by Leader of Opposition Suvendu Adhikari seeking disqualification of Roy as a member of the House on the ground of defection, the court in its 34-page judgement said that the certificate filed before the speaker under Section 65-B needs to be considered in accordance with law and the electronic evidence needs to be re-appreciated.
"It was necessary for the Speaker to duly take into account the certificate given by the petitioner under Section 65-B of the Act before rejecting the electronic evidence as inadmissible which he has failed to do in the present case," the Bench observed," the court said.
The bench, also comprising , said that it deems it proper to restore the matter before the Speaker for fresh decision instead of deciding the same themselves.
"The matter is remitted back to the respondent No.1 (Speaker) for fresh decision in accordance with law," the bench directed.
The court said that since the term of Roy as member/chairman, public accounts Committee (PAC) is going to expire in a short while, therefore, it expects that the Speaker will decide the application for disqualification filed by Adhikari as expeditiously as possible, "Preferably within a period of four weeks from today."
The court expressed "hope and trust" that the speaker will "impartially and independently" decide the petition seeking disqualification of Roy.
The petitioner's counsel alleged that the speaker was espousing the cause of Roy and claimed before the court that he cannot be said to be acting independently.
Adhikari had claimed in his petition that Roy had defected to Trinamool Congress on June 11, 2021 about a month after his election on a BJP ticket in the presence of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee at the TMC party office and this event of defection from BJP to AITC was covered by various news and media channels.
Another petition by Ambika Roy, BJP MLA from Kalyani, which challenged Roy's nomination as member of the PAC and subsequent appointment as its chairman was kept pending by the Division Bench.
"We deem it proper to keep this petition pending for its decision after the issue of disqualification of Roy is decided by the Speaker," the Bench said.
Mukul Roy had contested and won the assembly election from Krishnanagar Uttar constituency as BJP candidate in 2021.
Adhikari had approached the speaker for disqualifying Roy on the ground that having won the election as a BJP candidate, he had joined the TMC on June 11, 2021.
In support of the plea to the speaker, the petitioner had placed reliance upon newspaper reports, tweets, a press conference which was telecast live in the Facebook page of TMC, video recording of the said press conference and screenshots of the announcement made in the twitter handle of TMC on that day along with the transcripts thereof.
In support of the evidence relating to electronic record, petitioner had filed a certificate under Section 65-B of the Evidence Act before the Speaker.
With PTI inputs